In a wire transfer this morning, the Chrysler Group paid back $7.5 billion in government loans it received from the U.S. and Canadian governments.
It’s a success story few expected. In 2008, the auto industry was on the brink of collapse and the jobs of thousands of Americans were at stake. President Obama chose an alternate outcome, directing the federal government to back the loans that gave America’s car companies the lifeline they needed.
In the time since, those automakers have reinvented their companies and turned the industry around.
As Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne put it yesterday, “Tomorrow is payoff day." The Detroit News reports:
[H]e noted the U.S. government is getting $5.9 billion in loan and interest payments less than two years after the bailout — beating the three years it took a failing Chrysler to get out of its debt to the government in the '80s.
…"What the governments did was something exceptional, hopefully to never be repeated again," Marchionne said of bailouts that ensured Chrysler's survival in June 2009 following bankruptcy. "This will close a very painful chapter in our history."
Many people, including several of the current gaggle of Republican presidential candidates, argued that the government shouldn’t meddle in the auto industry. If Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman had their way, these jobs wouldn’t exist and America’s automakers would be living a much different reality.
But because of the President’s involvement, hundreds of thousands of jobs still exist, parents are able to continue providing for their families, and American industry is growing stronger.