Barack Obama covered himself with praise in a statement released on the White House website trumpeting his success in bailing out the auto industry. There’s just one little problem with Obama’s rose-colored view: he never admitted that taxpayers lost $10 billion on the bailout of GM. The Treasury Department revealed that after it sold its last shares of GM stock, the Treasury recouped only $39 billion of the $49.5 billion spent to save GM.
When I took office, the American auto industry – the heartbeat of American manufacturing – was on the verge of collapse. Two of the Big Three – GM and Chrysler – were on the brink of failure, threatening to take suppliers, distributors and entire communities down with them. In the midst of what was already the worst recession since the Great Depression, another one million Americans were in danger of losing their jobs.
As President, I refused to let that happen. I refused to walk away from American workers and an iconic American industry. But in exchange for rescuing and retooling GM and Chrysler with taxpayer dollars, we demanded responsibility and results. In 2011, we marked the end of an important chapter as Chrysler repaid every dime and more of what it owed the American taxpayers from the investment we made under my Administration’s watch. Today, we’re closing the book by selling the remaining shares of the federal government’s investment in General Motors. GM has now repaid every taxpayer dollar my Administration committed to its rescue, plus billions invested by the previous Administration.
Notably, Obama delayed selling the last remaining stock until after the 2012 election, possibly because the news of the huge financial loss would have hurt Obama’s chances.
Less than five years later, each of the Big Three automakers is now strong enough to stand on its own. They’re profitable for the first time in nearly a decade. The industry has added more than 372,000 new jobs – its strongest growth since the 1990s.
Yet Forbes ripped Bill Clinton’s 2102 DNC September speech in which he said, “Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than the day the companies were restructured.”
Clinton gets his figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that U.S. auto manufacturers (both domestic and foreign owned) employed 624,400 at the time of the bankruptcy (June 2009) and now employ 789,500 — an increase of 165,100 jobs. Auto dealers employed 1,009,700 in June 2009 and 1,081,200 today — a gain of 71,500 jobs. The two gains add up to 236,600 jobs (Clinton’s 250,000).
Sorry, President Clinton. There is no way you can you attribute the 236,600 job gain to the General Motors bailout. According to the carmaker’s annual report, GM North America employed 70,000 in the United States in June of 2009 (the rest were in Canada and Mexico) and 74,500 today, for a net gain of 4,500 jobs. Of the auto manufacturing job increases, GM accounts for only two percent.
Obama concluded with this:
When things looked darkest for our most iconic industry, we bet on what was true: the ingenuity and resilience of the proud, hardworking men and women who make this country strong. Today, that bet has paid off. The American auto industry is back.
For our autoworkers and the communities that depend on them, the road we’ve taken these past five years has been a long and difficult one. But it’s one we’ve traveled together. And as long as there’s more work to do to restore opportunity and broad-based growth for all Americans, that’s what we’ll keep doing to reach the brighter days ahead.
It’s easy to brag about how successful you are when you’re using other people’s money. And Obama has it down to a science.