One message emerged loud and clear during the appearance of auto executives before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday: The federal government must provide assistance to the Big Three automakers whether the companies file for bankruptcy or not. …

Analysts and others may quarrel with details. In the main, the plans point in the right direction, the companies continuing a transformation they have started. …

… Why avoid bankruptcy, in which the needed structural changes would be guaranteed? Mark Zandi, the chief economist with Moody's Economy.com, explained to the committee that the broader fallout would be catastrophic, the job losses cascading, the economic troubles deepening. At another time, bankruptcy would be a more practical option. Now? States such as Ohio would suffer a devastating blow.

Better to manage the reshaping of the industry by putting up the money and holding the automakers accountable to firm benchmarks. Congress should consider dividing the payments into parts, the first installment to address the immediate cash crunch, a second when certain progress is shown. The makings of a promising and pragmatic approach reside in the bipartisan proposal of a handful of senators, including George Voinovich [R] and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE [D] of Ohio. …