Here are my thoughts on the US auto industry ... still hoping others will chime in.
1) Draw The Line's earlier comment about the union situation -- couldn't agree more. In fact, I would love to see a federal mandate abolishing unions. That isn't going to happen and, yes, I know what chaos that would cause ... just playing with ideas here. But, back to Draw The Line's comments, absolutely, union members need to understand the situation their contracts are putting the manufacturers in and be willing to go back to the table, realizing that it is either do that or see their employer close completely.
2) The legacy costs of the big three must be addressed. I am referring to their ongoing pension and healthcare costs for retired workers. This must be figured out, not just for today but for the future. For today, federal money is needed to shore it up. Some people will shudder at this but I wonder if, for the future, is there a way for Social Security and Medicare to take over these enhanced legacy commitments for the big three and then future contracts with auto workers will also have their retirement and healthcare plans linked to Social Security and Medicare? I wonder if this could not be done in a way which could actually strengthen SS and Medicare for the long term. I realize that sounds outlandish but just toying with ideas here.
3) Offer a federally sponsored and significant "instant cash off" for people who buy the most fuel efficient model of car and truck offered by each of the Big Three. This would reduce fuel consumption, provide consumer optimism, encourage more fuel efficient vehicles, and keep production lines of the most fuel efficient vehicles running. A supplementary plan could give the Big Three maybe 10 or 15 years to pay back the federal government.
This is going to be painful regardless. About 10% of the US workforce is automotive related (not all for the big three of course). Jobs will be lost but, with my thoughts here, ongoing legacy costs will be met and fuel efficiency will be achieved and encouraged.