Moore: Govt Should 'Hold Reins' on Automakers

Filmmaker Michael Moore told CNN's Larry King last night that if the federal government gives the proposed $25 billion to U.S. automakers, it should "hold the reins" on those companies with orders to produce mass transit infrastructure and hybrid cars.

"If we're going to give them $25 billion, we should be able to own the company. If you gave me $25 billion to make my next movie, I think you own that movie, Larry," said Moore, who directed the 1989 documentary "Roger & Me," in which he confronted General Motors (GM) CEO Roger Smith about GM workers in Flint, Mich. who lost their jobs.

Here's how Moore made his case (transcript from CNN):
MOORE: President-Elect Obama has to say to them, yes, we're going to use this money to save these jobs. But we're not going to build these gas guzzling, unsafe vehicles any longer.

So, we're going to put the companies into some sort of receivership and we, the government, are going to hold the reigns on these companies. And they are to build mass transit. They're to build hybrid cars. They're to build cars that use little or no gasoline...

We need to restructure these auto companies so they become mass transit companies and companies that build cars that are hybrid or much more fuel-efficient and better for the environment. That's what the country needs. That's what the world needs.

Moore adamantly agreed with some critics of the proposal, who have blamed the Big Three's management for Detroit's problems and condemned the Big Three's CEOs for asking Congress for help. Moore accused Detroit of making building cars that fail to appeal to consumers.

"And I'll tell you, you know, I'm of mixed mind about this bailout, Larry, because I don't think these companies, with these management people, should be given a dime, because they're -- that's just going to be money going up in smoke or off to other countries. I mean, GM is currently building a $300 million factory in Russia right now to build SUVs, right outside of St. Petersburg. So that's where your money's going to go no matter what they say," Moore said. General Motors opened a factory in St. Petersburg earlier this month.

"What really went wrong is that General Motors has had this philosophy from the beginning that what's good for General Motors is good for the country. And so their attitude was we'll build it and you buy it. We'll tell you what to buy. You just buy it," Moore said. "And eventually, the consumer got smart and said you know what, I'd like a car that gets a little better gas mileage. I'd like a car that's safer on the road. And so they started to buy other cars. "