This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," December 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: FOX on top of the Big Three "begathon" — take two.
Last month, they had a big do-over stamped on a plan Congress said was not really a plan at all. So, they are back at it and the pursuit of the 25 million bucks they hope will make all their extra work worth it.
But now some on GM's board wondering if it is worth it, that maybe the auto giant should consider bankruptcy before bailout. GM's chairman hearing none of it. And neither is this guy, Wayne County, Michigan, Executive Robert Ficano. He just took out radio ads calling for Americans to support the industry.
So, Executive, those on the GM, who are not ruling out bankruptcy — why should you?
ROBERT FICANO, WAYNE COUNTY, MICHIGAN, EXECUTIVE: The automobile industry is so critical. It reaches millions of jobs...
CAVUTO: With all due respect, I have heard many argue the same point. The housing industry, the petrochemical industry, the retail industry. They have all been making the same pitch, we are two crucial to fail or go bankrupt... too crucial to fail or go bankrupt.
FICANO: No. 1, many jobs...
CAVUTO: Careful, other than the things I just mentioned.
FICANO: Well, first of all, because the auto industry is so critical, really. People think of it just as Michigan, but it really reaches millions of jobs across the United States.
CAVUTO: Well, you know, with all due respect, Executive, I have heard many industries argue much the same point, the housing industry, the petrochemical industry. I have had the retail industry. They have all been here, one man, one woman at a time, making the same pitch: We are too crucial to fail, too crucial go bankrupt.
What make autos sacrosanct?
FICANO: No. 1, there's a number of jobs across the country. But, No. 2, from a homeland security standpoint...
CAVUTO: No, careful. Careful. There are a number of jobs for all of those other businesses I just mentioned.
FICANO: Sure, there are.
But another unique aspect is the homeland security. You're talking about, during World War II, what was the arsenal of democracy. You're talking about companies that really, if we go into a ground war, there are the ones that are going to be making the tanks, the technology and everything else.
And, so, it is critically important that we continue to keep this industry alive, not only for the jobs and the further collapse, if they go down, but also from a homeland security standpoint.
CAVUTO: That sounds like a threat: You need us for the country's very survival. So, if you ignore us, you are ignoring your own survival.
That sounds kind of goofy, doesn't it?
FICANO: No. It is not a threat at all. It's just the reality of what it is.
CAVUTO: If all three auto giants would go down, if GM went down, Chrysler or Ford wouldn't survive? I mean, you're — you're working into that view that all the auto guys go belly up.
FICANO: Well, they are all interdependent. You talk about not only the automakers themselves, but you're talking about suppliers. There is a lot of cross-distribution of the suppliers that go back and forth in a number of states.
So, we are talking about not just the main ones, like Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. There are — talking about also a number of suppliers as well that would go down.
CAVUTO: Well, you know, with all due respect — and you speak for your folks very well, and I commend you for that — but there are a lot of suppliers, there are a lot of plumbers, there are a lot of contractors who bespeak of the housing industry remaining vibrant.
It is not vibrant. So, they could make a similar pitch and say, as we go, so will our plumbers go, so all our electricians go, so all of our ancillary mortgage lenders and respected financial players go.
And you see what I am saying? It goes on and on and on. Now, when GM board members themselves, some of whom are saying bankruptcy should be an option, obviously, they are seeing past the bankruptcy — why can't you?
FICANO: Well, because, No. 1, if you think about it, who would buy a car from a bankrupt company? You're afraid about the warranty and everything else that is going to be carried in the future.
CAVUTO: No, no. Wait a minute. A Cadillac, I can get repaired anywhere. And people have flown bankrupt airlines with a lot more at stake, namely, their lives, when they do so.
So, I figure that, if you could fly a bankrupt airline, certainly, you can drive a car from a bankrupt company, right?
FICANO: Yes, but the problem is, is that, once you go into bankruptcy, all the suppliers and the others that would be creditors, they would go under as well. So, you're not just talking about Ford and General Motors.
CAVUTO: How do you know that? How do you know they will all go under as well?
FICANO: Because those of us that have been familiar with the auto industry have seen the restructuring that has been going on, especially for the past six or seven years.
There have been a number of jobs that have been cut. There have been a number of plants that have been reduced down. And, in fact, their structuring plans would have worked, except for the economic tsunami that we now face.
CAVUTO: But I have known a lot of businesses that have or could have gone under, in service and carriers, you know, big plane carriers, that have gone out of business, not once, not twice, but three times. Continental comes to mind.
And, again and again, the same argument was made, that, if that went belly up, or even went into bankruptcy, there would be hell to pay. There were restructurings. There were giant reshufflings in the way that business was conducted, but it came out leaner and meaner and with arguably a better or more cost-constructed product.
So, I am just saying, if these guys can do it, under Herculean odds, why not the auto industry?
FICANO: But don't forget, the airline industry did get a bailout, especially after 9/11. Congress allocated funds to get them through that crisis.