Coming Up in CQ Researcher

Auto Industry’s Future
As U.S. automakers continue to seek emergency federal aid amid a global credit crisis and a worldwide slowdown in vehicle sales, policy experts are debating the potential effects of a government bailout and the long-term prospects of the American car industry. After their initial requests for aid were rejected, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have presented new business plans to Congress aimed at cutting costs and making the companies profitable. Management and the United Auto Workers union argue that letting even one automobile giant fail would have catastrophic consequences for the U.S. economy. Skeptics say, however, that automakers have had years to reform themselves and that the companies need a “bumper-to-bumper” overhaul. GM and Chrysler already have hired advisers to prepare themselves for the possibility they will be forced into bankruptcy reorganization, and Chrysler has announced plans to close all its plants for a month, beginning immediately.
By Thomas J. Billitteri

Homeland Security
How safe is America from terrorism? Nearly eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the question refuses to go away. To keep the nation safe, the U.S. government created the enormous Homeland Security Department, giving it stepped-up power to shadow and detain terrorism suspects. Former President George W. Bush credited these measures – and intelligence and military operations abroad – with preventing new attacks by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network. Some intelligence experts now argue, however, that U.S. anti-terrorism efforts or internal weaknesses have rendered al Qaeda incapable of mounting new attacks within the United States. Moreover, they say, the jihadist cells that have wreaked havoc in Europe lack American counterparts, because U.S. Muslims are not alienated or anti-American. Still, the danger of another attack remains a real possibility, security experts say, According to an emerging school of thought, Americans should learn to live with that possibility rather than trusting government to eliminate all danger.
By Peter Katel

Public Works and the Economy
To break the back of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal put hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans to work on projects such as repairing roads and building cabins in national parks. Similarly, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats hope to enact new funding in an economic-stimulus package to beef up U.S. infrastructure, including expanding highway and rail systems and modernizing school buildings. But many conservative analysts argue that government spending cannot create jobs but only diverts money from the private sector, which they call the only true engine of job creation, Meanwhile, infrastructure experts worry that if federal public-works dollars are spent too quickly, too much of the money will go to backwards-looking projects such as additional highway lanes, which encourage fossil-fuel use and suburban sprawl, rather than to more future-oriented initiatives like expanding rail and public transit and upgrading the electrical grid to accommodate alternative power sources.
By Marcia Clemmitt