In an article on Chrysler Corp. aid plans in yesterday's Business & Finance section, the Senate Banking Committee was identified incorrectly as another committee.
Prospects that the Senate Finance Committee will approve some form of federal assistance to the ailing Chrysler Corp. improved yesterday as several key members of the panel offered compromise proposals to change radically the administration's proposed $1.5 billion loan guarantee package.
Although the substitute measures and amendments offered yesterday would require various parties to the Chrysler crisis to take stiff medicine, a majority of the 15-member panel is expected to agree to enough compromises when the committee begins marking up a bill on Thursday to send legislation to the full Senate before Christmas.
Coupled with recent indications that Chrysler is making progress in talks with Japanese banks about continuing line of credit of up to $400 million and reports from Detroit that new rebates are beginning to help sell Chrysler cars, the congressional developments were seen as hopeful.
Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.) was a key figure in yesterday's developments. He proposed a thorough alternative to the administration's plan, which he termed a "pure bailout." Lugar said his plan would require "real sacrifice" by all parties with a stake in Chrysler's future and would insure the company's survival.
Later in the day, Sen. Paul Tsongas (D.-Mass.) offered a very similar bill, and committee Chairman William Proxmire (D.-Wis.) offered a series of amendments to change the administration's plan. The combined efforts of Lugar, Tsongas and Proxmire are expected to form the basis for committee action.
Instead of President Carter's plan for $1.5 billion of federal loan guarantees and a requirement that the auto company raise a like amount independently for a $3 billion overall package, Lugar's bill would produce $4 billion -- with only $1 billion coming from taxpayer support.
The most controversial element of the Lugar plan -- but one with much support on Capitol Hill -- would freeze wages and some benefits of Chrysler's United Auto Workers union employes to save $1.2 billion.
UAW officials offered no formal response to the Lugar plan, but union President Douglas Fraser has said previously the union has no plans to reopen negotiations on a recently concluded three-year pact that may boost wages by 30 percent or more.
In the Chrysler accord, the UAW agreed in effect to a one-year freeze -- but spread out over three years for a total savings to Chrysler of $202 million. The company itself had asked for a two-year freeze when it began bargaining.
One industry spokesman said yesterday the Lugar freeze proposal was "more hopeful than possible," and a UAW official emphasized that legislation already approved by a House committee requires the union to buy $50 million of Chrysler stock over and above the new wage contract.
Other proposals by Lugar included:
A freeze on wages of all management personnel, for a savings of $233 million.
A requirement that Chrysler sell at least $50 million of stock in 1980, diluting current stockholders' interest by up to 20 percent.
A mandate to the company to secure $1.6 billion (about the same as the administration bill)) from other sources -- nonguaranteed loans, sales of assets, further stock issues, concessions from suppliers and local governments.
Establishment of a seven-member review board to oversee the Chrysler aid and a priority for government loans in the event of default. The administration plan permits a waiver of this senior government position but opposition in both the House and Senate is expected to eliminate this waiver provision.
"This plan is based on the principle that taxpayers should help save the Chrysler jobs, but only after driving a reasonable bargain in terms of real sacrifice by the workers, management, stockholders and bankers who are asking for the help," Lugar declared.