The Public Is Not Sold on the Detroit Three Bailout

Polls show the public is not convinced the government should bail out the auto industry.

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Here's my Creators Syndicate column on my ambivalent attitude toward government aid to the Detroit Three auto companies. For one who grew up in the Detroit area in the 1950s and 1960s, the plight of these companies is gut-wrenching and astonishing. I can't help imagining going back in a time capsule to that time and place and explaining to people what would happen 50 years later. It's like the thought I often have when I'm strapped in my seat and the plane is taking off: I wish I had Thomas Jefferson next to me so that I could explain (insofar as I understand it) how airplanes were working. The difference is that I imagine that Jefferson with his knack for cutting-edge machinery would have understood, while my 1950s Detroiters wouldn't.

The public is evidently not sold on the Detroit Three bailout. Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that only 35 percent favor government aid, while 45 percent are opposed. Young voters are split, with 37 against it and 36 for it, while 27 percent remain unsure. And Americans apparently distinguish between the need to aid financial firms that provide credit vital to the economy and the need to help ailing manufacturing firms like the Detroit Three. A USAToday/Gallup poll showed that 47 percent of the public felt that "providing loans and other help" to the Detroit Three auto companies "is not very important." In contrast, 60 percent felt that setting new financial regulation was "critical" or "very important" for the economy.