December 3rd, 2008
12:12 PM ET
12 years ago

Majority oppose taxpayer aid for automakers, poll finds

 Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, left, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally testified on Capitol Hill late last month.

Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, left, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally testified on Capitol Hill late last month.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that six in 10 Americans oppose using taxpayer money to help the ailing major U.S. auto companies.

Sixty-one percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday are dead set against the federal government providing billions of dollars in assistance to the automakers, while 36 percent favor such a bailout.

The poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, also indicates that a majority of Americans, 53 percent, don't think government assistance for the automakers would help the U.S. economy.

"Only 15 percent say that they would be immediately affected if the auto companies went bankrupt," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Seven in 10 say that a bailout would be unfair to American taxpayers."

In early November, polls indicated that nearly half the public supported federal assistance to the big automakers when the issue first came before Congress. But evidence in surveys from other organizations suggested that the poor performance by executives from GM, Ford and Chrysler at congressional hearings, and the admission that they had flown in private jets to get there, resulted in a steep drop in support for the aid.

The new CNN poll indicates that those wounds have yet to heal.

"This indicates that the upcoming do-over that the auto executives will get in another round of congressional hearings may be crucial to swaying the public and getting the assistance package passed through Congress," Holland said.

Ford, GM and Chrysler on Tuesday presented details of their recovery plans to Congress, and the top executives of the companies are to appear before congressional panels Thursday and Friday.

Opposition to the bailout of the auto industry is widespread across the country, even in the Midwest, where the domestic automakers have their headquarters and many of their assembly plants. The poll indicates that most opposition to the bailout comes from the West, where it reaches 67 percent.

Sixty-one percent of those polled in the Northeast, 64 percent in the South, and 53 percent in the Midwest oppose using federal dollars to help the automakes.

The poll also suggests that a vast majority of Republicans, 70 percent, oppose the bailout. Sixty-two percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats in the poll also said they oppose it.

The auto companies say that if they don't receive government assistance, they could go into bankruptcy. If that happens, only 15 percent of those polled said they think they would be immediately affected, with another 19 percent saying they would feel the impact within a year or so. Forty-three percent said they would eventually feel an effect from such a bankruptcy, and 24 percent said they would never feel the impact.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted by phone, with 1,096 adult Americans questioned. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: Polls
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Voter

    We have to help them because 1 in 10 American jobs is riding on their success, even with bankruptcy, which has the advantage of wiping out the obscene retirement benefits, huge salaries for white collar and greed laden union deals.

    I say Chapter 11 to free them from the contracts, then oversee the restructuring.

    You can make a profit building cars in America. I didn't see Honda or Toyota, both made right here, at the table. Why? Because they pay their NON-union workforce well, give them substantial, but not obscene, benefits and offer retirees a fair package. And they don't pay themselves $21 million a year – Mulally's salary at Ford.

    Time to go back to "go."

    December 3, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. deb

    Something does need to be done because if the whole auto industry collapses there will just be millions MORE people out of work.

    The CEOs and other high management people need to cut out their BONUSES! This is where all the money goes! It happens in ALL big businesses and it's really pathetic. I work for a large business and see all of the waste that goes on. Management doesn't know what it's doing most of the time. We have managers who "travel" all of the time for pointless meetings, mainly, from my point of view, to get frequent flyer miles! I don't know what the answer is but the auto industry needs to prove that they will do the right thing, create eco friendly cars, etc.

    We definitely need to quit sending jobs to other countries. Who is going to support all of these out of work people! The whole thing is just a dominio effect! The young kids graduating college won't have any jobs waiting for them and seniors won't be able to retire when they should.

    I'm really afraid for what's to come in the near future. I feel for Obama. He has a monumental job ahead of him for which he will be blamed, unjustly, when things aren't "fixed" in 6 months! Bush has just ruined our great country.

    December 3, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. Jay

    I dont understand why we don't simply put mandates on the Auto companies in exchange for our money. Let's demand that every new car model be hybrid-electric by 2012. Let's demand that our money be used to pay for fuel efficiency research. Let's demand that no new SUVs are created and that the Hummer brand is removed. Let's put the auto companies to work building electric buses and alternative vehicles for our cities and municipalities. WHY ARENT WE TAKING THIS OPPORTUNITY SERIOUSLY???? It's infuriating. We want the auto companies to change, we need to save our environment, and we need to stop relying on Middle Eastern and foreign oil. What better opportunity than now?

    December 3, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. hollyglightly123

    No bail out. NO BAIL OUT! The airlines survived bankruptcy and so can the auto industry. It's not enough to own banks and their corrupt securitization process, now we have to own car manufacturers who make cars that we the consumers don't even BUY!? They should've been smarter a long time ago.

    December 3, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Peter (CA)

    I think the Big 3 blew it over and over. When they knew oil was going to be a problem, esepcially after 9/1, they gave us the Excursion and the Hummer. The government, which should have pushed for higher mileage, turned a blind eye. The CEO's should suffer for the decisions they made.

    Problem is, they won't. The workers for the Big 3 and all of the companies down the line that supply them will suffer. Further, if the Big 3 go down, so does Michigan, and maybe Ohio and Indiana. Tough decision to make.

    December 3, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |


    December 3, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. TERRY


    December 3, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. ladymary

    I read somewhere that $700 billion divided by the number of TAXPAYERS in this country comes to roughly $250K each. Why not forget about bailing everyone out and give this cash to the TAXPAYERS? They will pay their bills, buy houses, cars, etc and get this economy going again. 2/3 of our economy is consumer driven..put the TAXPAYERS in the drivers seat and let us start driving!!!!!

    December 3, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. Richard Larson

    Sad to say, but most of the people who respond to this proposition do not consider the main point of the situation. This country should never allow the auto industry to fail. A total failure would immediately wipe out all of the anti-depression measures the government has taken in the past 3 months. The country, and the world would, within six months de in a deep depression that would be disastrous because this country would very possibly be unable to defend itself in the case of a national emergency and could very well mean the loss of up to 10 million jobs within six months. Once it is gone, it is gone forever and we would then be at the mercy of the Japanese and Germans for all our transportation needs. Also, There is nothing that says the auto industry in these countries will survive a deep, worldwide depression.

    Maintaining an auto industry is a matter of national defence. This is the only remaining heavy industry capable of producing the necessary materials to conduct a major war if necessary.

    December 3, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. brian

    anyone who does not think that the big 3 failing would effect them obivously has no concept of economics.

    December 3, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  11. Jason Tabrys

    I understand that the C.E.O.'s of the big 3 coming to DC with a tin cup in hand as they stepped off private jets is bad on the surface, but for the most part it is unimportant. If these companies fail those 3 executives will be just fine, with millions tucked away, but almost 3 million workers, 9-5, lunchpale workers who scrape to get by working the line, those are the true victims of inaction, and focusing the story anywhere but on there needs is criminal. Yes the automakers need to demonstrate reform and a new business plan, but we can't get sidetracked by grandstanding politicians and semantics, real people, people who wont be able to easily dust themselves up are the ones in the firing line, the blame game can start along with the punishment one they are safe.

    December 3, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Adam Smyth

    maybe....just maybe the problem is workers who make 55 bucks an hour and who strike because they arent making 60 bucks an hour with 4 weeks of paid vacation double overtime and benefits many would kill for, to sort bolts and weld....

    Years ago when I worked at a gas station I had tons of these guys come in and complain about their wages and benefits....while I stood behind a counter at a job I could get shot at...and made 7.25 an hour.

    Seriously wanna blame someone...blame the Unions for too much of a good thing.

    Conversely, paying CEOs 40 million after you fire them isnt smart either...not by a long shot. Corruption and stupidity in business is not something to be rewarded with a golden parachute...this situation has alot of factors, maybe if the workers took a cut on wages and their over developed since of intitlement and the ceos stopped buying 50000 dollar umbrella stands we could rebuild our economy a bit faster and better.

    December 3, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Matt

    "Oh you Americans! You're so gullible! We'll spoon feed you socialism until you're Communists and don't even know it. We'll never have to fire a shot!"

    Nikita Khrushchev

    December 3, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. Vic Siesto

    I can not belive the senate and or the house is trying to tell sombody,actually anybody how to run a business.Look how they run the goverment(health care,social security).thats just two of the examples.Were in trouble when the tail is wagging the dog!!!!!

    December 3, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Gene

    I think they should get aid.. but not the kind they're asking for.

    Let them file Bankruptcy, re-organize, slim down... start again with a leaner and hungrier company... then use the money they're asking for to invest in research and development of more fuel efficient vehicles. It's a win/win situation... they get their money.. but that money goes to securing an energy future and the future of those companies, as opposed to paying for all their mistakes.

    December 3, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Matt

    Let's get something straight: THEIR CARS SUCK. Perhaps this is the only thing that truly needs to be considered.

    December 3, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. Patrick

    Yes to a bail out but make the UAW make DEEP concessions to put them in line with other workers and MANDATE that they make acceptable cars that will sustain their businesses after they have paid us back.

    December 3, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  18. Jeff

    Perhaps us taxpayers would support the bailout if there
    was confidence the automakers could honestly change the
    incompetent way they've done business for the last what
    40 years...telling the American consumers that they offered
    vehicles they say we said we wanted. The reality is they
    just marketed to the American consumer as such while they
    were covertly in bed with the oil industry, getting corporate
    tax shields, other bailouts (yes, we remember) and handsomely
    paying their top executives from the once high profit margins.

    December 3, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. JS

    Ask automakers if they be willing to take half paid cut to keep the company alive. If not send them back home with their hands empty. After all, this is a time for all of us to make sacrifice.

    December 3, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. Lizz

    Why can't the Big 3 borrow money from the bank?
    Since they have aplan on how to survive or even to be profitable.

    Govt has bailed out the banks and it is the banks' turn to help the auto industry.

    December 3, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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