WASHINGTON – In a defining moment for American capitalism, President Barack Obama ushered General Motors Corp. into bankruptcy protection Monday and put the government behind the wheel of the company that once symbolized the nation's economic muscle.
The fallen giant, the largest U.S. industrial company ever to enter bankruptcy, is shedding some 21,000 jobs and 2,600 dealers. Sparing few communities, the retrenchment amounts to one-third of its U.S. work force and 40 percent of its dealerships.
"We are acting as reluctant shareholders because that is the only way to help GM succeed," Obama said of the temporary nationalization of the 100-year-old company.
Obama lauded what he called a "viable, achievable plan that will give this iconic American company a chance to rise again" as GM followed Chrysler LLC into bankruptcy court. Of Detroit's "Big Three" automakers, only Ford Motor Corp. has avoided bankruptcy restructuring and has not taken federal bailout money.