Obama Touts Auto Industry Recovery in Detroit Speech

BY Quinn Bowman  July 30, 2010 at 2:04 PM EDT

President Obama rallied autoworkers at a Chrysler plant in Detroit Friday, telling workers that his administration’s decision to rescue the ailing auto industry in 2009 kept their jobs alive and was the right decision, despite “naysayers in Washington” — in other words, Republicans in Congress — who didn’t think the auto bailout was a good idea.

Mr. Obama highlighted the fact that the big three automakers have turned a profit in the first quarter of 2010, the first time that happened since 2004. Presidents Bush and Obama provided $85 billion in loans to GM and Chrysler to keep the ailing companies afloat during the depths of the recession. Of that total, the Obama administration committed $59.4 billion, according to BusinessWeek.

Ron Bloom, senior adviser to the Treasury secretary for automobiles, said in a press briefing Thursday that the bailouts may have helped save a million jobs.

“In the year before these bankruptcies, these companies lost almost 340,000 jobs. In the year since then, 55,000 jobs have been added to these companies,” Bloom said. “If we hadn’t stepped in when we did, most observers believe at least a million jobs would have been lost.”

GM and Chrysler are in the process of repaying the bailout money. According to Reuters, GM used other bailout money to repay a $7 billion loan and Chrysler had repaid $2 billion.