By Sam Youngman - 06/01/11 06:52 PM EDT
Two years after President Obama decided to bail out General Motors, the White House credited the president's “political courage” and the efforts of the company’s stakeholders for turning around the Big Three auto companies.
Ron Bloom, Obama’s auto czar, hailed the positive news U.S. automakers are enjoying even as he warned that White House officials “by no means believe that their future is assured.”
“On the other hand, we believe that the steps we took and the steps they took in partnership with us have positioned some of these companies to where they have a real chance of success,” Bloom said.
Obama will travel to a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio, on Friday, as the White House tries to make the positive news out of Detroit proof that the president's economic policies are working even as the economic recovery stalls in some sectors.
Bloom noted that of the $80 billion that both the Bush and Obama administrations injected into the automakers, about $40 billion has been repaid. Bloom did not dispute figures from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimating that more than $14 billion will not be repaid.
Bloom refused to say when the government might recoup the rest of its debts from the automakers, saying only that the administration is looking to do so as early as is practical.
Bloom said that there is “no joy” in someday announcing that the federal government took a loss from investing in U.S. automakers.
But, Bloom said, “as we record what was lost, we need to also record what was saved.”
“So while we are obviously extremely conscious of our obligation to get every penny we can for the taxpayer, we're also not going to apologize for the fact that there are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans who are working today because of what happened,” Bloom said.
In the end, Bloom said the administration is “quite confident” that the money lost on the auto bailout will be “a far smaller number than people predicted at the time we did it.”
With a number of other economic indicators causing the White House heartburn this week, Bloom painted a positive picture of manufacturing on the upswing.
“In the last year, the Detroit Three have all gained market share, they have all added jobs and they've all shown the ability to make money; they're all making substantial profit,” Bloom said. “Those three things together haven't been true of the Detroit Three in a long, long time.”