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Paulson: Bailout not for auto industry

Paulson: Bailout not for auto industry
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The bailout package is for the financial industry, not the U.S. auto industry, despite its importance to the economy, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said.

The intent of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program is to "deal with the financial industry," Paulson said during a news conference in which he provided an update on the bailout.

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"I know that this administration believes the auto industry is a very important, critical industry in this country. Manufacturing is critical to the country," Paulson said during a news conference Wednesday. "(Our) position all the way along is that any solution has got to be a solution leading to viability."

President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders have called for federal assistance for the automakers.

Congress passed a $25 billion loan set-aside package for the automakers that is effective next year, but analysts say the Big Three need help now or could head for bankruptcy.

Paulson said one option for the auto industry was for Congress to amend the loan measure "to make it available."

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