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'Aid only for the viable' - Bush

2008-12-09 08:29

Washington - US President George W Bush said that before the government provides financial aid to US automakers, all aspects of their business must be examined to see if they can survive over the long term.

"There needs to be viability," he said in an interview with ABC News' "Nightline," which released excerpts. "I believe that viability means that all aspects of the companies need to be re-examined to make sure that they can survive in the long term."

Bush said the plan must include best efforts to guarantee that taxpayer dollars are paid back.

The White House and Democrats in Congress have been hammering out legislation aimed at providing $15 billion to Ford Motor Co, General Motors and Chrysler LLC, but a White House source expressed concern about the viability language.

The draft legislation sent to the White House sets a March 31 deadline for the companies to submit detailed plans of how they intend to slash costs and restructure their businesses to compete with nimble and better capitalised rivals.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said some progress had been made over the past few days and discussions continued.

"Long-term financing must be conditioned on the principle that taxpayers should only assist automakers executing a credible plan for long-term viability," she said in a statement after receiving the draft legislation.

"We'll continue to work with members (of Congress) on both sides of the aisle to achieve legislation that protects the good faith investment by taxpayers," she said. Earlier Perino said it was "very likely" a deal could be struck on Monday.

Bush also said in the "Nightline" interview that "hopefully we'll get something done" and noted that the car manufacturers are "important companies but on the other hand, we just don't want to put good money after bad."

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