WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has pledged $50 billion to help automakers and auto lenders, but other industry segments say they need immediate aid, too. And President Barack Obama's $825 billion economic stimulus plan hardly mentions cars and trucks.
Suppliers and dealers seek additions to the stimulus bill that specifically would help them. But others — including some industry leaders — argue that the new president's Job 1 is to get the broader U.S. economy moving.
"Most economists would say the single biggest thing for helping auto sales is a general boost to the economy and people having jobs and having income," says Alan Reuther, the UAW's legislative director.
Obama calls the stimulus package his first legislative priority. Democratic leaders vow to send the bill to his desk by mid-February.
The bill's main automotive provision earmarks $2 billion for grants and loans for research and manufacturing of advanced batteries for electric-drive vehicles.
More generally, the bill would give individuals tax cuts of $500 and couples tax cuts of $1,000. It would expand some business tax breaks, boost aid to state and local governments and direct new spending to a range of projects, from road building to electricity-grid enhancements.