President Obama says Thursday's initial General Motors New York Stock Exchange offering validated tough decisions made at the start of his administration to have the federal government help ailing automakers. The president spoke after GM announced the initial public offering (IPO) marking the resumption of official trading in GM stock.
With all of the difficulties that have come Obama's way where the U.S. economy is concerned, he has been able to point to a major bright spot, an auto industry that appears to be retooling and revitalizing itself so it can be profitable, adaptive, and competitive.
On Thursday, General Motors, which took a $50 billion bailout from the U.S. government in 2009, began trading again on Wall Street. The IPO reduced the government's ownership stake in GM, at least initially, from 61 percent to about 36 percent.
President Obama underscored the significance of this in a statement in the White House briefing room. American taxpayers, he noted, are positioned to recover more than the original government investment in GM, a sign that the American auto industry is again on the rise.
"Our automakers are in the midst of their strongest period of job growth in more than a decade. Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy the industry has created more than 75,000 new jobs. For the first time in six years, Ford, GM and Chrysler are all operating at a profit."
The government has the potential of reducing its stake in the new GM still further to 33 percent through the buying and selling of additional shares, returning still more money used in the original bailout to American taxpayers.
GM, which at the point of its formal bankruptcy filing in 2009 had stock trading for less than one dollar, had already returned about $9.5 billion to the government. Despite industry downsizing, the Obama administration says tens of thousands of jobs have been saved and created.
In appearances at General Motors, Chrysler and Ford plants in the months before the November U.S. mid-term congressional elections, Obama made a point of noting that many opposition Republicans strongly opposed helping auto companies.
On Thursday, he again referred to what he called "doubters and naysayers" who he said would have written off the U.S. auto industry. Re-structuring for GM was difficult, he said, but showed that tough decisions are paying off. "We are finally beginning to see some of these tough decisions that we made in the midst of crisis pay off. And I am absolutely confident that we are going to keep on making progress. I believe we are going to get through this tougher and stronger than we were before."
Linking the re-shaping of the auto industry to the broader economic situation, the president said a long road and a lot of work lie ahead to rebuild the economy and put Americans back to work.