Obama weighing idea of “auto czar,” aide says

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Obama weighing idea of “auto czar,” aide says

CHICAGO (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama is considering naming a point person to lead efforts to help the distressed auto industry return to health, an Obama aide said on Thursday.

General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC are seeking a federal bailout of up to $50 billion.

Automakers and Democratic congressional leaders have discussed a two-stage process in which government would provide $25 billion in direct loans to meet urgent needs. A second $25 billion would come later and could be applied to a United Auto Workers (UAW) retiree health care trust, freeing up more cash for operations.

An Obama transition official said the president-elect was looking into “identifying someone in charge of the auto issue who would have the authority to bring about reforms that would lead to an economically viable auto industry.”

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