Economic Uncertainty Despite Obama Cheer

As Obama touts auto industry rebound, companies betray fear of the unknown.

ByABC News via logo
July 30, 2010, 9:06 PM

July 31, 2010 — -- Behind the wheel of a glossy black Chevy Volt plug-in car Friday, President Obama sought to drive home some good news about his 2009 bailout of the auto industry on the same day the country learned that the growth of the economy as a whole is slowing down.

Serendipitously, though, the president's trip to Michigan coincided with positive announcements from both Chrysler and GM, the two American auto companies bailed out by the federal government.

Chrysler announced its plans to add a second shift at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant near Detroit early next year and to keep it open past 2012, the year that the company previously had slated for the plant's shutdown.

In a similar statement, GM disclosed its intentions to manufacture 45,000 Chevy Volts by 2012; a figure that is 15,000 cars stronger than GM's initial production plan.

With those indications of the auto industry's improving fortunes, Obama seized the opportunity to defend his bailout of the two companies, which have received more than $62 billion in bankruptcy assistance and direct bailout funds since 2009.

"This plant and your jobs might not exist," he told workers at Chrysler's Jefferson North plant Friday. "There were leaders of the 'just say no' crowd in Washington. They were saying, 'Oh, standing by the auto industry would guarantee failure.' One of them called it 'the worst investment you could possibly make.'"

President Obama then proudly pointed out that the car makers saved by his administration's controversial bailout -- so heavily criticized by his Republican opposition -- are making money now and have added 55,000 jobs.

"They don't like admitting when I do the right thing, but they might have had to admit it," the president said. "And I want all of you to know now that I will bet on the American worker any day of the week."