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Bush to meet with auto industry CEOs

Old 11-13-2006, 06:13 PM
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Default Bush to meet with auto industry CEOs

Bush to meet with auto industry CEOs

By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 17 minutes ago

Auto industry leaders plan to stress in a White House meeting that they are not seeking any federal bailout, but want support on health care and trade issues that affect large manufacturers.

President Bush will meet Tuesday with General Motors Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally and Tom LaSorda, President and Chief Executive Officer of DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, in a gathering that has been delayed since last spring.

Auto industry leaders plan to tell Bush they do not want a bailout similar to the 1979 measure approved by Congress that helped preserve Chrysler Corp. Instead, they will discuss the spiraling costs manufacturers face on health care, the advantages Japanese automakers have because of a weak yen and their work to develop alternative fuel vehicles.

"We're not going into this meeting seeking specific relief for our industry," said GM spokesman Greg Martin. "We understand that we have to win in the marketplace but there are issues of national importance like health care and trade that affect the competitive balance."

All three automakers spend more on health care per vehicle than steel, which adds about $1,000 to the cost of a car built by the Big Three. GM, the nation's largest private provider of health care, spent $5.3 billion on health care last year for 1.1 million employees, retirees and their dependents.

Wagoner urged Congress last summer to provide a "vigorous and robust" prescription drug market, develop national health information technology and focus on high-cost, catastrophic cases among a small number of patients.

The automakers have also sought support on trade, arguing that Japan's weakened yen makes imported goods from Japan cheaper. Auto industry officials also noted that China is keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar, making Chinese goods cheaper in the U.S.

"It's just so important that the governments around the world ensure that the market sets exchange rates," Mulally told the Detroit Free Press editorial board last week.

Bush is meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday in Vietnam. Kevin Reale, research director for Boston-based AMR Research, an industry consulting company, said the proximity to the meeting gives automakers the chance to urge Bush to discuss "how to level the playing field on how it relates to currency."

Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., said Monday the Bush administration needs "to understand and I hope the Big Three will be blunt and direct with the administration that their competitors are not companies overseas. Their competitors are countries overseas."

The industry shares many of the same views as Bush on alternative energy. The Big Three are doubling their production of flexible-fuel vehicles, capable of running on blends of up to 85 percent ethanol, by 2010.

The companies have faced hardships while Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp. is enjoying soaring profits. A report in The Wall Street Journal on Monday said Toyota plans to capture 15 percent of the world car market by 2010 in its quest to unseat GM as the world-largest automaker.

Ford, the nation's second-biggest automaker, posted a $5.8 billion third-quarter loss its largest in more than 14 years while GM reported a loss of $91 million in the third-quarter, a sign of improvement after posting a $1.6 billion loss during the same period last year.

Chrysler Group had a $1.5 billion third-quarter loss, but it was helped by profits at its parent company DaimlerChrysler.

GM and Ford are both engaged in large downsizing plans. GM has persuaded about 35,000 hourly workers to leave the company under early retirement or buyout plans and Ford has offered buyouts and early reti
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Old 11-13-2006, 06:33 PM
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Default RE: Bush to meet with auto industry CEOs

I'm going to try to keep my remarks as contiversey free as possible, while addressing the subject. I read in a magazine either Time or Newsweek that the Japanese don't pay as much for employee health care plans to per U.S. worker as the Big Three do. They need to take a look at what the Japanese are doing different with their U.S. worker benefits. If the Big Three would have spent their incentives and rebate $$$ on making the cars more attractive in the first place, they might be able to charge more and might not be in trouble now.

I'm tired of hearing the Big Three always whine about everything except for the thing that they have control over. They whine about its because of high fuel prices, its because of high health insurance, its because Satan has a crystal ball and is turtoring us. The problem is plain and simple, they are losing sales because they got lazy and didn't offer comparable products that competed in all necessary categories (performance, interior, fuel mileage, etc.). That is what the problem is, these other things are symtoms.

I am tired of hearing people whine about the cost of health insurance but they don't want to take the steps to lowering the cost.
1. they need to add caps on these lawsuits brought up against doctors. That drives up their insurance which drives up our insurance because they then need to charge us to over come their prices.
2. Hosiptals need to figure out a way to get rid of mouchers. A friend of mine works over at one of the big hospitals in St. Louis and he tells me about all kinds of stories about how these foolish people will call an ambulance over a simple head ache. Then after they are in the emergency room and the headache was solved with an aspirin, they refuse to pay their bills. So to off set those expenses, they have to charge more to the insurance companies because otherwise they will go under.

There are other suggestions I have but those would probably cause some big fights so I'm going to keep them to myself.
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