“Today, that bet has paid off,” said Obama in a statement, heralding the government's $80 billion bailout of two of Detroit's “Big Three” carmakers. “The American auto industry is back.”
The Treasury on Monday announced that it had sold its final shares of GM stock, following its 2011 exit from Chrysler.
“When I took office, the American auto industry – the heartbeat of American manufacturing – was on the verge of collapse,” said Obama. "As president, I refused to let that happen. I refused to walk away from American workers and an iconic American industry.”
“Today, we’re closing the book by selling the remaining shares of the federal government’s investment in General Motors,” he added. “GM has now repaid every taxpayer dollar my Administration committed to its rescue, plus billions invested by the previous Administration.”
The auto industry bailout was launched by former President George W. Bush, but expanded under Obama.
The rescue was a centerpiece of Obama's 2012 campaign, with the president touting the bailout in midwestern states and arguing that his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, would have allowed the industry to go out of business.
Democrats hammered Romney for a New York Times op-ed he wrote, which was headlined “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” Romney said that he had not penned the headline and said that the managed bankruptcy process the Obama administration used to rescue GM and Chrysler was what he had also proposed.
Critics pointed out that the Treasury Department lost $10 billion on its GM investment, but Obama said the bailout had helped turn around the struggling industry.
“Less than five years later, each of the Big Three automakers is now strong enough to stand on its own,” said the president. “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.”