WASHINGTON -- General Motors restructuring plan, demanded by the federal government, is coming together, but work remains to be done, GM CEO Rick Wagoner said today.
Were making progress where we need to make progress, Wagoner told reporters on a visit to Capitol Hill. He declined to identify any major hurdle but noted that the time horizon is short, and there are a lot of pieces coming together.
GM and Chrysler LLC are required to present viability plans to the Treasury Department by Tuesday, Feb. 17. The Bush administration demanded the plans as a condition of pledging $17.4 billion in emergency loans to the automakers last December.
Wagoner said the work force and salary cuts GM announced today were a painful part of adjusting operations to market realities. He said they were not specifically designed to comply with federal demands, although he added that the plan requires GM to determine the resource level we can afford.
If the government determines the automakers plans do not show long-term viability, the federal loans must be repaid -- a step that could push the companies into bankruptcy. The Obama administration has not changed the conditions of the loans set by the administration of former President George W. Bush.
Wagoner met privately today with new chairmen of key congressional committees: Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of that panels environmental subcommittee; and Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
Wagoner also met with Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich.
GM spokesman Greg Martin said the visits were courtesy calls with no specific agenda.
Waxman could be crucial to the automakers future. A frequent critic of the industry, he is a strong proponent of state greenhouse gas rules and of a national cap-and-trade program to combat climate change.
The industry says it needs a single national standard to deal with fuel economy and climate change -- preferably the fuel economy program administered by the Transportation Department.
Wagoner said climate change was among the topics of his meeting with Waxman. He declined to characterize the discussion. Waxman did not meet with reporters.
I appreciated the chance to sit down, Wagoner said. Obviously the chairman is very well-informed on the issues, so it was good for us to hear his views.