On the day that the federally bailed out GM became a publicly traded company again, President Obama used the moment to remind doubters that his administration had done the right thing by stepping in to help get the car maker through its bankruptcy.
The nearly $50 billion in initial taxpayer support GM received last year, along with the bailout of Chrysler and, separately, of Wall Street, were extremely unpopular with many voters.
The bailouts taken together helped fuel the Tea Party movement's rise and ire at the Democratic-controlled Congress which resulted in the party's loss of its House majority.
But with GM raising more than $20 billion from its initial public offering Thursday, the largest in history, with as much as $13.6 billion going to the U.S. government, it was a chance for the president to do a little bragging.
For instance, by rescuing GM, the administration saved more than 1 million jobs, the president said. If GM had been allowed to disappear, it would have resulted in billions of dollars of additional costs to the local and state governments and created "chaos", he said.
His message was similar to that of the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank which examines economic issues from the workers' perspective.
He came to the White House briefing room to deliver a statement. An excerpt:
Our automakers are in the midst of their strongest period of job growth in more than a decade. Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, the industry has created more than 75,000 new jobs. For the first time in six years, Ford, GM and Chrysler are all operating at a profit. In fact, last week, GM announced its best quarter in over 11 years. And most importantly, American workers are back at the assembly line manufacturing the high-quality, fuel-efficient, American-made cars of tomorrow, capable of going toe to toe with any other manufacturer in the world.
Just two years ago, this seemed impossible. In fact, there were plenty of doubters and naysayers who said it couldn't be done, who were prepared to throw in the towel and read the American auto industry last rites. Independent estimates suggested, however, that had we taken that step, had we given up, we would have lost more than 1 million jobs across all 50 states. It would have also resulted in economic chaos, devastating communities across the country and costing governments tens of billions of dollars in additional social safety net benefits and lost revenue.
That wasn't an acceptable option — to throw up our hands and to quit. That's not what we do. This is a country of optimistic and determined people who don't give up when times are tough. We do what's necessary to move forward.
So these last two years haven't been easy on anybody. They haven't been without pain or sacrifice, as the tough restructuring of GM reminds us. And obviously we've still got a long road ahead and a lot of work to do — to rebuild this economy, to put people back to work, to make America more competitive for the future and to secure the American Dream for our children and our grandchildren...