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Long-term solution better than quick fix

There is much debate on what should happen to U.S. automakers who have been battered by the recent economic situation. Senate Democrats want to carve out a portion of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout to pay for the loans. The White House and congressional Republicans insist that the automaker bailout money instead come from redirecting a separate $25 billion loan program approved by Congress to help the industry develop more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Among these two options, the better option may be the second one — at least right now. It might not be the end-all fix to help these companies, but it should help in the short term. President George W. Bush will only be in office for a few more months, and it could be difficult not just for the Barack Obama administration but also for the companies that could be affected by the bailout package.

Washington must come up with an automotive bailout package that will fix the problem — not just give these companies cash to blow. A long-term plan must be created so that these companies won’t get back in this same position the next time a major economic slowdown occurs.

“For the auto industry to completely collapse would be a disaster in this kind of environment,” President-Elect Obama said on “60 Minutes” Sunday night on CBS. “So my hope is that over the course of the next week, between the White House and Congress, the discussions are shaped around providing assistance but making sure that that assistance is conditioned on labor, management, suppliers, lenders, all of the stakeholders coming together with a plan — what does a sustainable U.S. auto industry look like?”

It may take some time to do this — maybe until the first of the year. We’d rather wait and get a good plan rather than making a rash decision that could negatively affect us for years to come.