The high profile effort to agree legislation to lend $14bn to the US auto industry collapsed on Thursday night, leading the Bush administration to hold open the possibility that it would seek funds from its financial rescue plan instead.

Efforts to agree a deal in the US Senate ended in failure when Harry Reid, the leader of the Democratic majority, said negotiations with Senate Republicans were at an end and warned that millions of jobs were at stake as a result.

Both Democrats and Republicans said the sticking point was a demand to push Detroit to bring down labour costs to a par with foreign manufacturers in the US. Democrats said the move made unrealistic demands on the United Auto Workers union, while Republicans argued that no effort to restructure the industry would work without such a step.

Perhaps a loan conditional on appropriate commercial restructuring was an appropriate way to help families through this catastrophe, but it appears the coercive powers of state and union have created a destructive intransigence.

Presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul spoke powerfully in the debate:

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