Obama touts auto recovery ahead of Detroit speech

Obama touts auto recovery ahead of Detroit speech
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President Obama is touting the U.S. auto industry's turnaround under his watch ahead of his speech at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Wednesday.

"Headed to the Detroit Auto Show today to showcase how our auto industry has come roaring back from the financial crisis. Here are the stats," he tweeted. 

"In 2009, auto sales hit a 27-year low. Last year, they hit an all-time high," Obama continued. 

"American automakers have added more than 640,000 jobs since mid-2009 — the strongest job growth on record," the president wrote. 

"Seven years ago I bet on American workers and the American auto industry. I’d make that bet again any day of the week," Obama concluded. 

Obama is expected to tout his administration's pledge earlier this week to spend $4 billion on testing self-driving cars in his speech on Wednesday. 

Obama has cast the federal government's $80 billion bailout of U.S. automakers General Motors and Chrysler as a defining part of his transportation legacy throughout his presidency. The bailout began in 2008 under former President George W. Bush, but the Obama administration placed conditions on the assistance in 2009, including the high-profile removal of GM's general manager. 

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Ford was the only major U.S. automaker that did not take a bailout from the federal government when the rescue money was issued in 2008 and 2009. 

The auto bailouts were a central issue in Obama's 2012 re-election bid, when Democrats reminded voters often of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 2008 op-ed arguing against the bailout that was titled, “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”  

Obama's visit to Detroit on Wednesday comes with automakers and the administration's highway safety regulators under fire after widespread recalls at companies such as General Motors and Takata. The recalls, beginning in 2014, involved parts that were first found to be defective years ago.

The issue of car safety returned to the spotlight after recent revelations that German automaker Volkswagen had been cheating federal pollution emission standards to trick regulators into believing their cars emit less emissions than they actually were.

Critics have attributed the spike in recalls to lax oversight of the auto industry by the Obama administration.

The Department of Transportation said last week it has reached a "historic" agreement with U.S. automakers on a set of principles for safety improvements after a drastic spike in the number of car recalls in recent years. 

The agreement calls for automakers to work together with federal regulators to achieve four goals: enhancing and facilitating "proactive safety," enhancing "analysis and examination of early warning reporting data," maximizing "safety recall participation rates" and enhancing "automotive cybersecurity."