Bailout could mean better car deals - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Bailout could mean better car deals


David MacAnally/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A $14 billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate Thursday night after the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts. The talks also centered on large-scale debt restructuring by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

If the bailout is revived, it could mean better deals at dealerships. The negotiators may wind up helping consumers the most.

Dealers don't want to see closed car lots.They say they're offering the deals they can, but say a bailout would
mean better deals.

In his Dodge dealership on Shadeland, Kevin Beltz made a critical call Thursday. Beltz said he called Senator Lugar and left a message to ask him to support the auto bridge loans.

Beltz supports an initial $15 billion taxpayer bailout US automakers could use to stay afloat while they restructure. Ford says it doesn't need the money right now.

For Kevin Beltz, it's a second generation appeal.

"My father Gene Beltz in '79 and '80 was on the National Dealer Council for Chrysler," Beltz said. "He lobbied Lugar 30 years ago to get a federal loan that saved Chrysler. He kept a paper weight showing "copies of the check that Chrysler paid back to the federal government with interest."

Beltz says Chrysler can do it again if it gets the cash to stay open past next month and restructure.

"I think the pain that would be felt as a result of pulling those loans out would be terrific and almost immediate," said Beltz. He feels it would affect not just auto jobs but everything from Little League teams to recreation centers that car dealers support.

Saving jobs in the plant and related businesses could save consumers when it comes to the bottom line on the price sticker.

"The logic is that the restructuring is to make the cars less expensive for consumers ultimately whether at the executive level or worker level," said Professor Reiber with Butler University.

"They have the funds available to make the rebates and special financing deals. And yes, it does trickle down to the consumer," said Beltz.

"I would like that," said one customer after being told about possible lower prices. "Well, you see what I've got, a foreign car," said one man. "I would like to have an American car."

But he wants reassurance the car builder will still be around.

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