Biden Hails Chrysler’s Loan Repayment as Sign of Broader Recovery

Vice President Joe Biden hailed Chrysler Group LLC’s repayment of federal loans during the administration’s weekly radio and internet address.

Biden, speaking on behalf of President Obama who is wrapping up his six-day European trip, said the automaker’s repayment of bailout funds vindicates the Obama administration’s unpopular decision to prop up Chrysler and GM with federal loans totaling $64 billion in 2009.

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

The Vice President said the resurgence of GM and Chrysler has saved thousands of American jobs, including jobs at auto dealerships and parts suppliers.

In total, the Obama administration provided $85 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies and loans to the U.S. auto industry in 2009 despite strong opposition from a variety of political and business leaders.

“At that time,” said Biden, “many people thought the president should just let GM and Chrysler go under,” – a move which he said would have meant abandoning “an industry that had meant so much to our economy, and so much to so many for so long.”

Chrysler Group LLC has repaid $7.6 billion in loans from the governments of Canada and the United States and, last Friday, Fiat SpA announced that it is prepared to buy back the U.S. Treasury’s remaining stake in Chrysler by year’s end.

Biden also said, “This announcement came six years ahead of schedule and just two years after Chrysler Corp. emerged from bankruptcy.”

The Vice President pointed to the accelerated repayment as a “sign of what’s happening throughout the American automobile industry.” “It’s not just Chrysler,” he said. “Also this week, GM announced that its Detroit-Hamtramck factory will run three shifts for the first time its 26-year history. You know, that’s 2,500 more good-paying jobs.”

Last November GM raised upwards of $23 billion through its IPO of common and preferred stock, leaving the U.S. Treasury with a 33 percent minority stake in the company.

Responding to Biden’s statements, House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) pointed out the differences between the Obama administration’s job creation tactics and those proposed by the Republican Party.  “For too long,” said Cantor, ”Washington has relied on gimmicks or government-knows-best solutions. No more. Now, more than ever, our nation needs small businesses and entrepreneurs to get people back to work.”

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