When I worked in collections we had a series of increasingly threatening letters we'd send to insurance companies in an effort to get them to pay up, starting from "We believe there has been an error and you have underpaid. Kindly correct this honest mistake" and ranging up to a letter we liked to call the "Fuck you, pay me" (borrowed from Goodfellas). By the time an insurer or, more rarely, an individual recieved the FYPM letter, it could safely be assumed that we were no longer dicking around and were about to break it off in their ass. Methaphorically.
I get the distinct sense that the Obama administration has just sent GM and Chrysler the FYPM, what with its 30/60 day ultimatums. I get the even more distinct sense that they'd love to force them into bankruptcy right now but can't muster the political will – or perhaps the government needs a couple weeks to figure out how Debtor-in-Posession financing will work for such behemoth bankruptcies given the ailing banking system. Ostensibly they are being given 30/60 days to find a buyer or "restructure", which we all know is ridiculous. If the companies could do either they'd have done so already. So this amounts to political theater, giving a very public One Last Chance while behind the scenes the automakers, administration, and bankruptcy courts have started a countdown and have been given fair warning: "The hammer falls in 30 days. Whatever you need to do to get ready, do it."