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. Wade

    @ Tom and Jim,
    How patriotic are you about buying an American car that isn't even made by American workers?
    Patriotism has jack to do with my wallet. I buy what I can afford and build QUALITY is very much an issue.
    My last "American" vehicle was made in Canada (Chevy Silverado) and it was a hunk of junk.
    A brand new car is not supposed to BURN 2 qts of oil every 3 months.
    Now I know why the truck came with a 7qt pan instead of the usual 5qt.
    GM refused to fix and actually had the balls to tell me it was "normal".

    My Honda is made in Alabama by American workers who's salaries feed into the American economy.
    In my opinion, it is an American car (minivan actually).
    More so than my Canadian Chevy was or my neighbors Mexican Ford.

    April 9, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  2. D-MI

    Yup.
    Someone pointed out the other day that when it comes to emission regulations, safety regulation, fuel economy regulation... US auto makers kick and scream and say "Let the MARKET decide!!!!"
    Well the market decided.

    Your cars suck.
    We hate your SUVs.
    We can't afford them.
    We don't want to keep propping-up government's who finance terrorists by paying high prices for oil (at least I don't).

    I haven't driven a car in over years, and I don't miss it a bit.

    April 9, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  3. Scott AZ

    Seems I recall that most if not all of the major Airlines have filed bankruptcy at one time or an other and they're still in business. Let the auto industry do the same and same all those billions Obama wants to give them for his other feel good social programs.

    April 9, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  4. Jack in Florida

    An organized bankruptcy is the best thing that can happen to the auto industry.....................the first thing they need to do is to get their costs in a 2009 reality..................................health care costs for retirees...............hourly pay for workers is outrageous.......work rules etc. They will be much stronger in the end! Good luck to all involved

    April 9, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. Eat the Press

    f you are anything like me, I wont step foot into another dealer show room until Detroit creates cars with more alternative choices.
    Detroit wont win until they build cars that consistently:

    Get 40 mpg +
    Different Cars with different fuel choces (Gas/Hybrid/Biofuel/Electric)
    Sales price < $40,000

    April 9, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  6. Dave NYC

    I wonder if my fellow Americans realize what it means to let our automobile industry die?

    This is no time for Defeatism, but for new and bold ideas!

    We need to give up the idea of Hummers and SUV's and focus on developing the best electric cars in the world... come on America, since when do we give up so easily?????

    April 9, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  7. Dan

    Any one who tells me that bankruptcy wouldn't cause any problems is living in a delusion world, but what's happening in public opinion doesn't surprise me. It will be interesting to see the final results, forget the real causes of what caused this devastation, let's destroy them while we can. Just think, we might be able to get a 50% cost cut off a car. Personally I feel for all the workers, but let's get them all, buy foreign cars. mm mm

    April 9, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  8. Bill_ MA

    While we are at it , we can allow the totally mismanaged cities, and states to go belly up also.

    April 9, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. kmiller

    1. take all the CEO bonuses. perks. trips.. partys. over blessed saleries...... and do an audit on the company... to add all this to the company 'pot'

    2. Praise, Brag... Promote FORD who has NOT taken any of the Peoples tax moneys !!

    We are all growing gardens, sitting home, trying to save lil bit , living on STRICT budgets to get by..... What will we do when we have to PAY THIER bills??? CAN YOU AFFORD THAT??? I cant !

    Let them see how the rest of us do it .

    April 9, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. Alan

    American cars haven't been AMERICAN for decades. Get your facts straight. Nissan's factories in Tennessee hire AMERICANS. Same with Honda and Toyota. What does America do? Ship their cars to Canada and Mexico to be assembled.

    April 9, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  11. ge

    go the republican way made in china they seem to like that label

    April 9, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. joeb

    I have never belonged to a union and I don't endorse unions, but if Americans believe that the UAW is the main reason that the automakers are in trouble, you are a bigger moron than I thought you were.

    April 9, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  13. ndlily

    All of you do realize that bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean that they shut the company doors and fire everyone, right? Bankruptcy more often means reorganization. The companies will be freed from a lot of their debts and their contracts, particularly with unions and executives. The people hardest hit will be their creditors and suppliers.

    Before you start screaming that it's not patriotic to allow these companies to "fail," a few important points. First, they have already failed; I'm not sure how else exactly you would describe their situations. Second, if you are patriotic, you will be a patriot and let the system do its job. Stand behind your own product (the USA) if you will. And finally, "patriotism" is no excuse for blindness to greed, no matter how much certain people in business and government want to hide behind its thin curtain.

    April 9, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. A little sad

    For all the "let 'em fail" guys.

    I think you will find that you will not like it if you are the only one with money and you're surrounded by the people who you let fail, and their hungry kids.

    I'm not in favor of just giving handouts, but this is an extraordinary situation, and it will call for extraordinary measures.

    It might also call for losing some of your "it's not my problem" attitude. Unfortunately, it might not be, but that doesn't mean that actually matters.....

    April 9, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  15. Dave

    Are these the same Americans who for the last 20 years have been buying cheap foreign cars? If they would have purchased American cars we wouldn't be in this trouble but it is always easier to point the finger of blame at the auto makers, isn't it!

    April 9, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. MBFLA

    Let Wall Street go under. Many of those companies created this mess. I'm tired of those greedy SOBs and their opulent lifestyles demanding more while we get less. Bail us out, not them!
    When the auto industry in America can sell a reasonably priced, safe hybrid car, Americans will buy it.

    April 9, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. Heather in Seattle

    Don't kid yourself, if the auto companies fail that will mean millions of people out of work and that will throw us into an actual depression. Think about it, having millions of people out of work will mean serious deficits in tax revenue collections including social security. Also, it will cause a major chain reaction, these millions of people out of work will no longer be able to buy the goods and services that they currently do causing other businesses to go belly up and thus grossly decreasing our economy at a faster pace than it currently is.

    April 9, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  18. Rene in PA

    Let them go bankrupt...

    unless,

    * certain dollar amounts of bailout monies are specified to be used for new technology car engine research

    * manufacture and assembly must take place in the USA, if that's not possible then...

    * contracts taken overseas must include costs of medical care to those people based on our average non-nationalized health care as a percentage of mark-up to cost.

    * discuss how much non-nationalized health care is REALLY costing our nation

    April 9, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. Phat Elvis

    goes to show how little Americans know about economics...

    yeah sure, kill the UAW, then have your cars built by people making $9/ hr. that's gonna be a quality product!

    April 9, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. Bob (Illinois)

    This just emphasizes how uninformed many citizens REALLY are. It would appear a lot of posters on this thread are equally uninformed.

    April 9, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  21. James A. Burt

    The auto industry is a critical part of our industrial base. It's foolish and irresponsible beyond belief to advocate their demise. Transformation, yes.

    April 9, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  22. Rene in PA

    @Jimmy Boy

    It's not just the fact that poorly run companies can be replaced. I don't think anyone could intelligently argue that the greed of these car company executives superceded their long-term possibilities for sustained marketability.

    However, the problem is two-fold.

    1. These car companies resolutely refused to moderize their vision with current technology. That equates a huge profit/marketabilty hit.

    2. The "cost" incurred in making a car includes employee benefits, such as health care (here in the United States). That doesn't happen overseas because the contracts go to companies that either have nationalized health care or... none at all. The US can't compete with those lower costs.

    April 9, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  23. Lance

    What the HECK has patriotism got to do with buying a car (or any other product for that matter)? I should buy a car because it is American, eventhough it is a piece of crap. No way partner. I buy a car because it will: 1. get myself and my family to where we am going safely, 2. provide me with good gas mileage, 3. doesn't cost me an arm and a leg to buy and maintain.
    The bottom line here is make a quality product at a fair price or GO FISH!

    April 9, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  24. Sammy

    Going bankrupt is not the same as failing. Often companies will come out stronger than before by focusing on those things that actually make money. Chrysler would probably be bought out by someone. GM would reorganize and be better for it.

    However, there are many perils with going bankrupt and if it can be reasonably prevented then do so... so long as the company knows what the hell its doing. Thus far I have little faith that they have a realistic plan. Hopefully they will make one and soon.

    April 9, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  25. Silvio

    When they go out of business you can always buy a better car from Toyota.

    April 9, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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