Obama’s trip to a Toledo plant that assembles Jeep Wranglers follows a week of White House publicity about the automotive revival, including a May 28 radio address by Vice President Joe Biden and a June 1 White House report saying $80 billion of federal aid for Chrysler andGeneral Motors Co. (GM) saved at least 1 million jobs at automakers and their suppliers.
The president also will have some good news to deliver for taxpayers:Fiat SpA (F) and the U.S. Treasury Department announced last night that they have reached an agreement for the Italian auto company to buy the government’s remaining 6 percent stake in Chrysler for $500 million.
Obama’s task is to persuade voters that, while recovery has been slow in coming, the recession would have been far worse without government action to keep GM and Chrysler in business, said Steven Rattner, the former head of the president’s automotive task force.
“It’s very hard to convince people of what would have happened if you didn’t do something,” Rattner said. “People hate bailouts. They are angry about a lot of things and it’s a knee-jerk reaction, without a substantive foundation.”
“The administration’s auto bailout is nothing to celebrate,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican. “There were better options that could have saved jobs for these workers. The model the White House should be touting is Ford, which, instead of relying on a taxpayer-funded bailout, saw trouble coming and made the tough decisions necessary to preserve jobs and weather the storm.”