The failure of the bailout is actually the best path. Even if the bailout passed, they would end up in bankruptcy eventually. If the bailout had passed, this is likely what would have happened (IMO):
1. They would be solvent enough to make it to Feb/Mar of 09'
2. By then we would have a union-loving President and more union-loving democrats in congress.
3. Strings attached to an additional bailout in Feb/Mar 09' would not be to break up and renegotiate the ridiculous union contracts as the union-loving democrats would not allow this. Instead, the strings would be to produce greener vehicles.
4. Changes to produce more fuel efficient/greener vehicles does nothing and these companies keep siphoning off money.
5. They need more money in 3 months. Congress gives it to them.
6. repeat #5.
7. Eventually, the public gets tired of all these bail outs and puts pressure on congress. Congress gives in and GM/Chrysler (and maybe Ford) go into bankruptcy.
So, failure of the bailout probably just saved American taxpayers much more than the $15 billion and we end up at the same place.