|Thank you, Mr. President. |
The accelerating U.S. auto industry
By Steve Benen
Thu Feb 2, 2012 1:24 PM EST
President Obama stopped by the Washington Auto Show the other day, and seemed quite pleased to declare, "The U.S. auto industry is back." The president added, "it's good to remember that the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die."
It's hard to blame Obama for boasting and needling his critics. When he launched an ambitious rescue of the auto industry in 2009, the president was taking a major gamble -- not only with the backbone of American manufacturing, but with his presidency and its ability to use the power of government to repair a private industry facing collapse.
That gamble now appears to have paid off beautifully. Andrew Leonard takes a look today at where things stand, both for the American auto industry and the politics surrounding the debate.
Dueling pundits, start your engines: The auto industry kicked off 2012 with a turbo-powered roar, and Democrats won't wait long to make hay out of the impressive numbers. The question of the day: How will the GOP respond to one of the most successful displays of forceful government intervention in the economy the U.S. has witnessed in decades?
The numbers are hard to argue with: After the major automakers released their January sales figures, Autodata Corp. estimated cars raced out of lots at an annualized sales rate of 14.18 million vehicles for 2012. That's the best month of sales -- excluding August 2009's Cash-for-Clunkers -- since April 2008.
The good news is starting to pile up: Chrysler has posted its first profit in 15 years; GM is building new American facilities; and plants are operating at a capacity unseen in a long while.
The Wall Street Journal reported today, "The auto industry hasn't just turned the corner. It's starting to accelerate."
Had it not been for federal intervention and government action, these heartening headlines would have been impossible.
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