President says auto rescue will help overall economy

WASHINGTON (AP) - President George W. Bush says giving U.S. automakers a chance to restructure is important to the whole U.S. economy.

In his weekly radio address, he discusses a new administration plan to offer troubled car companies $17.4 billion in emergency loans. He says letting the carmakers collapse is not an option during a recession, housing slump and financial credit crunch.

Bush says the companies' "restructuring will require meaningful concessions from all involved," including management, labor unions and creditors. He adds that if a company can't come up with a viable plan by March 31, it will have to pay back the loans.

Among other things, Bush says auto workers should agree to wage and work rules that are competitive with foreign automakers. He's also calling for elimination of a program that allows laid-off workers to get about 95 percent of their pay and benefits for years.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)