Biden: US auto industry brought back 'from the brink of extinction'

Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday said that the Obama administration had brought the U.S. auto industry back from "the brink of extinction" and "total collapse" -- noting once again that Chrysler had repaid the government bailout it got in 2009.

"I’ve got some good news for us today," Biden said in the administration's weekly address. "Not only is our economy overall growing, but one of the important sectors of our economy is on the rise again: the American automobile industry."

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The White House has been pushing the recovery of car manufacturers this week after Chrysler announced its repayment of both the initial money the government put up in the controversial auto bailouts, as well as $1.8 billion in interest, six years ahead of schedule. The company borrowed $5.1 billion from the U.S. government and $1.6 billion from Canada.

"Many people thought the President should just let GM and Chrysler go under; they didn’t think the automobile industry was essential to America’s future," Biden said. "The president disagreed – and, in addition, he wasn’t willing to walk away from the thousands of hardworking UAW members who worked at GM and Chrysler – and in many cases, not only all their lives, but as second and third generation employees."

President Obama was widely criticized for intervening in the affairs of the auto companies as his administration managed the assistance to Chrysler and General Motors, but the auto bailouts originated under former President George W. Bush near the end of his term in 2008.

"Because of what we did, the auto industry is rising again," Biden said. "Manufacturing is coming back. And our economy is recovering and it’s gaining traction."

The vice president delivered the White House's address as the president is traveling in Europe.