Teams look for new ways to make auto cuts

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DETROIT --- A list of job cuts, shuttered factories, canceled bonuses and commitments to fuel-efficient cars won't be enough next week when U.S. automakers get another shot to persuade Congress to give them $25 billion in loans.

Through the Thanksgiving weekend, teams will be tagging more meat to throw at skeptical lawmakers who vilified the automakers' top executives the last time they went to Washington. That means executive pay cuts, union concessions and perhaps even higher fuel economy requirements, and a glimpse at top-secret product plans.

At General Motors Corp., the largest of the Detroit Three and probably the most needy, teams are preparing a detailed plan, first for GM's board Monday, then for delivery to Congress by its Dec. 2 deadline. The House Financial Services Committee plans to hear testimony on the loan requests Dec. 5.

Steve Adamske, a spokesman for committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said Tuesday that each company is expected to submit a report that will be made public to "give confidence to the people that we're not giving good money after bad."

A person briefed on the plan GM is building says it will contain more than just details of past restructuring that has slashed production and cut the company's U.S. payroll from 177,000 eight years ago to the current 104,000.

The person, who didn't want to be identified because the plan hasn't been finalized, says it is likely to include new, more visible sacrifices from top executives, even working for $1 per year. Also on the table are concessions from the United Auto Workers, including elimination of the much-criticized jobs bank in which laid-off workers keep getting most of their pay.

During last week's congressional hearings, only Chrysler Chief Executive Robert Nardelli committed to working for $1 per year, while GM CEO Rick Wagoner and Ford's Alan Mulally didn't directly answer the question.

Besides getting called out for flying to Washington on separate corporate jets, a lack of answers from the CEOs was a big part of the problem last week and a big reason why they were chastised by hostile lawmakers, said Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst with the consulting company IHS Global Insight.

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