Obama Touts Auto Industry Bailout

US President Barack Obama on Saturday praised the decision early in his administration to bail out the failing US automobile industry, arguing it has now become a leading job creator.

"Today, auto sales are the highest they've been in more than four years," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

"GM is back", he continued. "Ford and Chrysler are growing again. Together, our auto industry has created nearly a quarter of a million new jobs right here in America."

The financial bailout of the industry dates back to January 2009, when all three major US auto companies -- GM, Chrysler and Ford -- stood on the verge of bankruptcy, pleading the government for $34 billion in financial assistance.

The Obama administration, which at the time had just taken over from the outgoing Republican government, used nearly $25 billion of the $700-billion bank bailout package to lend GM and Chrysler a hand.

Ford eventually decided not to take government assistance.

In return, the companies promised to consolidate operations and speed-up development of energy-efficient vehicles.

Obama said that all of this was something the American people "can and should be proud of."

"It's a reminder that when the American people put their mind to something, there's nothing we can't do," he said.

The president pointed out that the auto industry had come back stronger following the crisis and argued that America will keep doing the same "as long as I'm President."

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