President Barack Obama spoke about the bold $60 billion bailout of the U.S. industry at a Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Chicago on Thursday. He’s been making the rounds, visiting General Motors and Chrysler facilities to argue the merits of his administration’s highly controversial decision.
“I refuse to walk away from this industry and American jobs,” he said. He reminded the crowds that GM and Chrysler are operating at a profit, saying, “That’s the first time that has happened in six years. The American Auto industry is not just coming back, it’s going to be number one again.”
Obama spoke at the Big Three facilities about the bailout that saved jobs and the U.S. auto industry from complete failure last year. Ford is the only one of the Big Three to refuse bailout money from the U.S. government.
Ford has recently added 1,200 jobs plus a second shift at its Chicago plant. The Obama administration says that this is possible at least in part because of loan guarantees from the Energy Department totaling around $400 million. The loan guarantees are for companies that remodel their facilities to make more fuel efficient vehicles.
Ford’s Chicago plant, which used to manufacture the Taurus sedan, will now be producing the latest Explorer SUV, a more fuel efficient redesign that it plans to make available in 90 countries. The president talked about the part the U.S. auto industry has in boosting overall exports, and said that the current goal is to double exports over the next five years.
To encourage the exportation, President Obama said that the Export-Import Bank will make a loan guarantee available to Ford that will finance $3.1 billion in export sales for over 200,000 vehicles being sold in Canada and Mexico.
The auto industry success story was not the only reason for Obama’s visit to Chicago; the president was hard on the trail of campaign cash, attending Democratic events at the Cultural Center and at a private home. The president was also stumping for Alexi Giannoulias, who will take over the Democratic Senate seat once held by Obama.
Interestingly, adding official events such as the visit to the Ford plant to political appearances like the Democratic Party events enables the administration to use taxpayer money to fund most of the cost of the trip rather than using money from the candidates or from the Democratic Party.
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