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Ford would welcome government welfare checks
Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford voiced his support Friday for government loans for the auto industry and growing attention on the nation's lack of energy policy.

Bill Ford has been largely out of the limelight since hiring CEO Alan Mulally in September 2006. But he made his remarks outside of Ford Motor Co.'s world headquarters in Dearborn, where the company was hosting a centennial celebration event for the Model T.

Ford, the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, was on hand to greet Model T owners and sign autographs. Ford has been intensely lobbying presidential candidates and others in Congress for $25 billion to $50 billion in government loans, which some have labeled a bailout.

Bill Ford took offense to that characterization, arguing that the money is important to help the U.S. auto industry transition to meet tougher regulations imposed by Congress and shifting demands of consumers, who are seeking vehicles that are more fuel efficient and powered by alternative fuels and electricity.

The money, Ford said, might give Ford "breathing room" because the loans might mean the difference between billions of dollars in loans at "a single-digit interest rate" and "a double-digit interest rate."

The money, he added, would also ease the way for Ford "to go as absolutely fast as we can" to develop alternative-powered vehicles. Ford, who declined to state his preference in the U.S. presidential elections, also said he was heartened that the candidates had energy policy at the top of their discussion lists. He said a sound national energy policy is overdue.

Given the infrastructure needed to support any single future direction of the auto industry, he said, government must help determine the most desirable path for our nation -- and its automakers.

"It's a government's role," he said, "to be leading that debate." Detroit Free Press
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