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A car question: Bailout or bankruptcy?

Logos for Chrysler and General Motors are seen at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center on January 11, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. Despite rumors of a possible merger with GM, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli says the automaker's white-collar staff cuts are not a sign that the company is preparing itself for sale. (UPI Photo/Brian Kersey)
Logos for Chrysler and General Motors are seen at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center on January 11, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. Despite rumors of a possible merger with GM, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli says the automaker's white-collar staff cuts are not a sign that the company is preparing itself for sale. (UPI Photo/Brian Kersey) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The billions of dollars in additional federal help requested by U.S. automakers is dwarfed by the cost of bankruptcy, GM and Chrysler said.

General Motors Corp., in filing a financial viability plan Tuesday, increased its request for government loans from $18 billion to $30 billion, saying it would be broke by March 31 if more loans are not approved. Chrysler LLC, also predicting bankruptcy by March 31, requested $9 billion.

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Bankruptcy, however, would be a "highly risky and costly process," GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

GM said it would cost $100 billion in debtor-in-possession financing from the federal government to see it through a bankruptcy proceeding, the Times said. Chrysler said $25 billion in taxpayer funding would be needed for a bankruptcy filing.

"Chrysler will be viable," Chairman Robert Nardelli said.

But, the escalating costs of keeping U.S. car companies going has raised concerns.

"In general, all of us in this country are becoming far more concerned about continual potential bailouts," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., The Washington Post reported.

"I think at some point we're going to have to take some tough medicine," he said.

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