We have to remember that it’s not just the lack of available money that is pushing the auto companies towards a bailout (I’ll get on to Ford’s position in a minute). First of all, there’s antitrust law, which prevented a GM takeover of Chrysler recently that could have made both companies much better able to absorb the blows. As John Berlau points out, this was because the authorities decided that there was some sort of light truck market distinct from other autos, an argument that the recent switch from SUVs to passenger cars blows out of the water.
Meanwhile, Ford is stressing that it doesn’t want a bailout for itself, but is worried on the effects on its suppliers if GM and Chrysler go under, as are the Japanese automakers (which reveals the “Southern senators voted against the bailout to protect the Japanese manufacturers” arguments as a load of tosh, as Stephen mentioned below). Ford deserves more positive press for the way it has modernized and planned for harder times (something the #tcot twitter initiative Operation Ford Motor seeks to implement).
Meanwhile, the best way to save the auto industry remains a deregulatory bailout, reducing govvernment-imposed burdens on the industry, and in particular Congress backing off on its destructive CAFE requirements.