Fiat Built That

Obama Touts Success of European-owned Chrysler

Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne / Wikimedia Commons
July 31, 2012

President Barack Obama is championing the profits of a European-owned carmaker as proof the auto bailout worked.

"Chrysler continued its comeback last quarter by posting $436 million in profits," Team Obama tweeted out with the hashtag, ‪#MadeInAmerica, on Monday.

The campaign did not mention that Fiat, an Italian car company, bought a controlling stake in Chrysler from the U.S. Treasury in 2011.

American taxpayers provided Chrysler a $12.5 billion bailout in 2009 to save the company, $3 billion of which will never be paid back, according to the latest Inspector General Report.

Those losses have doubled since March, when Team Obama released a campaign video championing the bailout as a "success" despite the $1.3 billion Chrysler failed to pay back at that time.

Obama has repeatedly cited Fiat-owned Chrysler and government-owned General Motors as evidence that he has helped to save American jobs in swing states such as Michigan and Ohio.

"I refused to turn my back on a great industry and American workers. I bet on American workers. I bet on American manufacturing," Obama said at a campaign rally in Oakland, Calif. "Three years later, the American auto industry has come roaring back."

Claiming Chrysler’s success as his own may run afoul of Obama’s former Car Czar, Steven Rattner.

Rattner criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in May for claiming that he helped create 100,000 jobs by investing in successful companies, such as Staples, Toy "R" Us, and Sports Authority, while running Bain Capital.

"While I defend the role financiers play in making our economy work, I also concede that Mark Zuckerberg was far more central to the success of Facebook and its 3,200 jobs than the venture capitalists who invested early," he wrote.

Rattner noted that Staples created more than 40,000 jobs while Romney was at Bain, but said that it was inappropriate for the Republican to take "credit for the 89,000 employed" in 2010, 11 years after he left the private equity firm.

Obama has focused a large portion of his attacks on Romney’s business record on Bain investment decisions that occurred after he left the company.

While Obama takes credit for the success Chrysler has enjoyed since the government withdrew from the company, he has ignored the struggles that General Motors has faced while still under government control.

Taxpayers still own a 26 percent stake in GM and a controlling share in its lending arm, Ally Bank. Those companies still owe $42 billion to the U.S. Treasury Department and are besieged by reeling stock prices and a lawsuit relating to the bank’s mortgage holdings.

Far from being "back on top," as Obama claimed, executives at the company are engaging in a political blame-game after firing global marketing chief Joel Ewanick, according to the Daily Caller’s Mickey Kaus.

If the company is unable to make a quick turnaround, taxpayers will experience a loss far greater than that of the Chrysler bailout.

The Inspector General found that GM’s stock would need to nearly triple in order to recover the $50 billion bailout in full.