- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 5, 2010

Touring a Ford Motor Co. plant in his hometown of Chicago, President Obama on Thursday said his administration’s $60 billion bailout of the auto industry may not have been popular but saved some 1 million jobs in the midst of a deep recession.

Unlike General Motors and Chrysler, Ford did not accept money in the government’s bailout program. But Mr. Obama said his administration’s intervention still saved the company from indirect harm.

“If your competitors had gone down, they would have taken down a whole bunch of the suppliers you depend on; the brand of American autos would have diminished. That would have had severe consequences for Ford, and that’s the challenge we faced when I took office,” Mr. Obama told a friendly audience of about 1,700 people, mostly employees at the company’s Chicago assembly plant.

Earlier this year, Ford accepted a nearly $6 billion grant from the Energy Department to develop fuel-efficient vehicles. On Thursday, Mr. Obama announced a $250 million government loan guarantee under which the Export-Import Bank of the United States will help the company fund exports of about 200,000 vehicles to Canada and Mexico.

Mr. Obama said the loan guarantee will help the United States achieve his goals of growing the economy and doubling the nation’s exports over five years.

“Our workers can compete with anybody,” he said. “Don’t lose faith in the American industry — we are coming back.”

The visit marks Mr. Obama’s third visit to an auto company in just one week.

In response to the Ford event, the Republican National Committee put out a press release noting that Ford did not accept bailout funds and warned that U.S. taxpayers are still “on the hook” for GM, of which the government owns 60 percent.

• Kara Rowland can be reached at krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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