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President Will Start Promoting Auto Bailout In Speech Today

President Obama this morning will deliver the "opening salvo" of a public relations effort to convince taxpayers that government bailouts worked in the case of the auto industry, with benefits for both workers and consumers, David E. Sanger and Jackie Calmes report. The president is visiting a General Motors plant in Hamtramck, Mich., that will produce the new Chevy Volt.

Nine of GM's 11 plants have canceled traditional summer shutdowns to keep up with consumer demand, and GM and Chrysler have added shifts. In addition, GM has repaid a $6.7 billion loan and it is talking about going public in the fourth quarter. Ron Bloom, who was appointed help engineer the GM and Chrysler makeovers last year, says that the bailouts stabilized the entire industry, including Ford and the network of parts suppliers that employ more people than he Big Three combined.

Detroit Free Press columnist Tom Walsh says he gets it: People don't like the idea of the taxpayer money going to save private companies that were apparently mismanaged for years.



But the key analogy, he writes, is that "people didn't like the rationing of sugar, butter, meat and gasoline during World War II, either. But citizens supported these anti-free-market intrusions as necessary in a time of national emergency." Similarly, he feels that Obama "totally reshaped a bloated and dysfunctional industry, forcing sacrifices from all, into something that now looks sensible and sustainable."

Read the whole story at New York Times, Detroit Free Press »

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