When the chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler again plead for a bailout before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday, they'll face a whole new battery of questions.
Why is GM now seeking as much as $18 billion from Uncle Sam, when last month CEO Rick Wagoner indicated that the company would need $10 billion to $12 billion to avoid bankruptcy? Why should taxpayer money be put on the line for Ford (nyse: F - news - people ), if the company thinks it can restructure without tapping into the money? Most important: How will government aid to these companies get customers back into showrooms to buy new cars?
And though the drubbing on Capitol Hill will be bad this week, it won't be nearly as rough as last month, when the leaders of the Big Three flew into town on corporate jets without their homework and got sent home like delinquent schoolboys. Now they've submitted plans to lawmakers on how they'll stay afloat. That'll help.
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