Obama touts auto bailout as new car model year begins

President Obama touted his administration's bailout of the U.S. auto industry as American car companies are beginning to sell their 2013 model year vehicles.

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"Every year around this time, American car companies start rolling out their newest, shiniest models, hoping to entice you into buying one," Obama said in his weekly address. "And this year is no exception. They’ve got some pretty good-looking cars coming out.

"But something is different this time around – and it starts with the auto companies themselves," the president continued. "Just a few years ago, the auto industry wasn’t just struggling – it was flatlining. GM and Chrysler were on the verge of collapse. Suppliers and distributors were at risk of going under. More than a million jobs across the country were on the line – and not just auto jobs, but the jobs of teachers, small business owners, and everyone in communities that depend on this great American industry."

Obama has often used the auto bailout to counter Republican claims that his policies are harming the U.S. economy. Democrats were surprised when he did not mention a widely read op-ed his opponent in his bid for reelection, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, wrote in The New York Times in 2008 titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” in a debate between the candidates last week.

 The president did not pass up the chance to reference the article's title in his address this week, however.

"We refused to throw in the towel and do nothing," he said. "We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way."

Obama also touted new fuel-efficiency standards that were implemented recently by his administration. The rules, which would require cars to get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, were criticized by Republicans for being an overreach by government, but Obama said "we’re not just making more cars and trucks – we’re making better ones.

"After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and light trucks will average almost 55 miles per gallon – nearly double what they get today," he said. "That means you’ll only have to fill up every two weeks instead of every week. It’s good for your wallet, it’s good for our economy, and it’s good for the environment."

Obama also touted trade deals he has signed during his first term in office, saying he signed "bipartisan trade agreements into law, because I want to see more cars on the road in places like South Korea imported from Detroit and Toledo and Chicago."

Republicans have criticized Obama for not focusing enough on trade.