April 9th, 2009
04:00 PM ET
3 years ago

Poll: Let carmakers go bankrupt, say Americans

 The public used to think that the automakers were too big to fail, but not any longer.
The public used to think that the automakers were too big to fail, but not any longer.

(CNN) – Three-quarters of all Americans think that the federal government should let General Motors or Chrysler go bankrupt rather than pumping more money into the struggling automakers, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll - and most now say that the economy would not face major problems if those companies went into bankruptcy.

The public used to think that the automakers were too big to fail, but not any longer. In December, two-thirds say auto bankruptcies would create major problems or a crisis for the U.S. economy. Now most say that would only cause minor problems or no problems at all.

And Americans don't see any effect on their own lives if the automakers fail: 55 percent say they would face no problems at all if the auto companies went bankrupt. Only 37 percent say they would buy a car from a bankrupt company. But that number rises to 57 percent if the federal government stands behind the warranty on those cars.

The survey includes telephone interviews with 1,023 adult Americans. It was conducted April 3-5, 2009, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

(Full results after the jump)

Should the government let auto companies go bankrupt?
Yes: 76 percent
No 22 percent

What would the effect on the U.S. economy be if auto companies go bankrupt?
Crisis: 10 percent
Major problems: 37 percent
Minor problems: 44 percent
No problems at all: 9 percent

Would there be a crisis or major problems for the U.S. economy if automakers go bankrupt?
Now: 47 percent say yes, 53 percent say no
In December: 66 percent said yes, 33 percent said no

What would the effect on you personally be if auto companies go bankrupt?
Crisis: 3 percent
Major problems: 11 percent
Minor problems: 30 percent
No problems at all: 55 percent

How do you feel about increased government involvement in the way businesses are run?
Gone too far: 35 percent
About right: 42 percent
Not far enough: 23 percent

(Sampling error on the following two questions: plus or minus 4.5 percentage points)

Would you buy a new car from an auto company in bankruptcy?
Yes: 37 percent
No: 63 percent

Would you buy a new car from an auto company in bankruptcy if the government stands behind the warranty?
Yes: 57 percent
No: 42 percent


Filed under: Auto Bailout
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Jon in CA

    To quote the Obama administration, "Never waste a good crisis!".

    Why would Obama let car companies figure out a solution to their own problem when HE could take control?

    April 9, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. Mobius

    News Flash: We also feel the same way about Wall Street, The Healthcare Industry and most Governmental programs.

    Sink or swim on your own merits!

    April 9, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The automakers need to either merge with other companies or go under. Simple as that.

    April 9, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. Jimmy Boy

    Workers, don't worry. The void created by these poorly run companies will be filled by new and compentent companies. It's not like the void will just sit there. People who know how to do REAL business will take advantage of this opportunity.

    April 9, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. Marilyn

    I haven't purchased one of their cars in more than 20 years. I don't really care what happens to them. If they made a product that people wanted to buy they wouldn't be in this mess in the first place!!

    April 9, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Ron Ft. Myers

    The fact of the matter is, the only thing our tax dollars are doing is prolonging the inevitable. The money they are receiving is only being used to fund fixed overhead, salaries, retirement, etc. There is nothing that is changing the fact that people are not buying new cars and the cars are too expensive. At least if they bankrupt, they will reorganize, which is what needs to happen. Logically, what positve reaction comes from our pumping tax dollars into their system? If you want to take the position that it is the "decent, right" thing to do, that still does not change the fact that each time they go through the last tax hand out, they will be back for more. There is no benefit to the population at large nor to the company itself.

    April 9, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Marc

    Oh no... unions are a huge constituent of the Democratic party and their votes can be delivered in an organized fashion. The Dems won't let large union industries go down no matter how much "we the people" have to pay to do it. Welcome to socialism. Once you have it it's hard to get rid of it. Kind of like certain other "social" diseases...

    April 9, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    Most Americans don't understand the effect it will have on the industry as a whole, foreign or domestically owned, through the auto supply chain.

    For national security reasons we need this manufactering base!

    April 9, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. JP

    Start by ripping up the UAW contract then GM might have a chance.

    April 9, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. mark

    Let them fail along with the UAW.....................

    April 9, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. john

    I'm with Mobius! Let em sink or swim!

    April 9, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. jared/san diego

    "News Flash" Social Security, MediCare, Unemployment are broke too. GOP's will be the first one's with their hands out to collect. Don't hear any complaining about that SOCIALIST PROGRAM?

    April 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. ran

    Bankruptcy would be okay except that for big companies the tax payer gets stuck with pension plans that the company gets rid of by court order. Look at what United Airlines did: they got rid of their pension and health care cost through court order, came out of bankruptcy and in less then a year gave their top exc. million $ bonuses. We need the Gov. and judges to stipulate that can not happen with any auto bankruptcy.

    April 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Michael in MN

    GM at least would probably survive going chapter 11. They could reorganize and tear up the current UAW contract and negoiate a new one competive with the likes of Honda and Toyota. The GM Volt is by all accounts a high quaility small car competive in evey way with similar foreign models. But Obama said it is not vialble because it costs to much. It costs too much because the UAW contracts cost GM too much.

    April 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. dg

    the only ones not getting the bail out is the americans that put these companies where they were...the execs put thier own companies down, and they get the bail out. now what wrong with this picture

    April 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. LIP

    The automakers along with the UAW. Maybe then after they reorganize without the UAW, we can be competitive again.

    April 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. chris

    Ditto! They should go through the process

    April 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. Willy Brown

    AGREE let bad business fail. WAKE UP AMERICA we can not afford to pay for bad deals for the price of some pinhead in Congress’s political career.

    April 9, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Willy Brown

    Detroit car maker build fugly cars anyway.

    April 9, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  20. Mike Dallas

    I supported the first one for GM but it may be time to let them go and concentrate the efforts at keeping Ford afloat. Ford is in much better shape financially and I think America needs to maintain at least one auto manufacturer for security purposes.

    I understand that GM cannot choose reorganization since that would take more than 100 billion taxpayer's dollars to pay GM's expenses during the reorg because they cannot get credit from the private sector while the reorg took place over the next 2 years. Therefore, they will liquidate instead of reorg. That would cause huge problems such as flooding the market with cheap cars in a time when no one wants them. Therefore, subsidies should go to Ford during GM's liquidation when everyone is buying GM’s cheaper cars and none of Ford’s since they would still be at market value. Also, the battery research and development program of GM should be moved to Ford and not sold during the liquidation.

    Therefore, we could stop sending billions to GM of course we will still spend billions on unemployment benefits and health care cost for the hundreds of thousands that will lose their jobs both for GM and associated industries. It will be costly either way, but long term I think it is better to let GM go and liquidate.

    It will very painful and disruptive for many, many people and I truly hate that fact, but, I do think it is time to try and save at least one American automaker and that should be the one that is most viable now.

    April 9, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. John, Rochester MN

    If they hadn't jumped on the stupid, ill-advised Wall Street bailout, I suspect Americans wouldn't mind the auto bailout at this point. It makes a lot more sense than the Wall Street bailout. Having said that, I say let them go so they can get rid of those ridiculous union rules that are the real problem. The cars are good and getting better, so there's no reason they should end up out of business.
    Oh, and Jon in CA, Obama doesn't want to take control of the auto business. He's busy enough cleaning up the rest of the mess the last eight years brought us.

    April 9, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. Matthew, Detroit

    Let them go bankrupt. Yes.
    Let them get rid of the unions. Yes.
    No unions = a stronger car company and a better america.
    No more unions.

    April 9, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  23. Laverne

    I am a tax paying citizen too, but also understand that allowing the auto industry to go under is not the solution because it is not just about the auto industry. It will be a domino affect to so many other businesses, not to mention that the workers will be the real losers here. Is it fair to punish to millions of middle class workers in order to punish the CEO's. There should be a shift in top leadership for their part, but going out of business won't work not to mention how many people with lose their homes, healthcare, and unemployment which will burden us even further. Cause guess what, who do you think will pay for all of that, TAX PAYERS! Please try to understand the whole picture before reacting. In fact there is no win win situation here!

    April 9, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Mari

    I would not and will not buy another American made car. We've been there already and we lost big bucks. Never again!

    Sadly, for those who are employed by the Auto makers.

    I say let them die off....... that's what Good Ol' American Capitalism is all about......... eat or be eaten........ win or lose!

    I also say let the crooks on Wall Street go under also!

    April 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. MD

    I really don't know what willhappen. None of us do. What I will say is there are always what I call, Side Effects, that no one counts on.

    Here's a perfect example. The Execs. at the company I work for thought there would be little to know effect to our US customers by sending a large portion of our jobs offshore. No one considered the long vacations (i.e., holidays of 3 to 4 weeks) employees take in other countries. Now when we need to get something done for a customer, we often have to wait on someone to return from holiday because whatever they are working on is NEVER handed off to a co-worker to complete... So forget about timeliness or customer satisfaction...

    Dah...

    April 9, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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