The unions and the deals they extorted the big three into over the years have been the obstacle to them being competitive with foreign manufacturers in this market. This IMO has been a big factor in their demise and the inability to make a significant comeback.
The reason they are not getting help from Washington is more because of public opinion and the politicians. Most Americans seem to feel that the car companies deserve to fail because they don't really understand the car business or what it's like to carry the weight of union benefits around for decades. The Democrats are still miffed about them resisting the raising the CAFE standards even though the foreign manufactures did as well, and the Republicans think free market should kill any weak company except for banking, credit and insurance institutions for some lame reason.
Basically it's the same as it always has been here. When they stopped making electronics, cameras, furniture, appliances, machine tools, clothing, televisions, radios and almost everything else, nobody even flinched. Americans don't value manufacturing anymore and don't really care if it goes away as long as there are still plenty of good choices at the store. The ramifications of this attitude are going to be coming back to bitch slap us. Oh, and that arsenal of democracy? It moved to China, so watch out world.
"Beer, the cause of and solution to, all of life's problems." -Homer Simpson