WASHINGTON - Taxpayers will lose about $14 billion in the government's $80 billion bailout of Chrysler and GM, the White House said Wednesday, portraying the outcome as good news since the losses are far lower than originally anticipated.
Seizing on the figures, the Obama administration took credit for the resurgence of the auto industry, assuring taxpayers the government's bailout of Chrysler L.L.C. and General Motors Co. was an investment worth making.
A report by the president's National Economic Council noted that as Detroit automakers rebound, the taxpayers' loss from the bailout will be about $14 billion, or less than 20 percent of the $80 billion that the Bush and Obama administration used to prop up the companies in 2008 and 2009. The Treasury Department had expected losses closer to 60 percent.
The report was part of a White House strategy to draw attention to an industry that's on the mend and whose footprint is most noticeable in key presidential battleground states.
Obama is making the most out of Chrysler's announcement last week that it is repaying $5.9 billion in U.S. loans and a $1.7 billion loan from the Canadian government ahead of schedule. Those payments cover most of the federal bailout money that saved the company after it nearly ran out of cash and went through a government-led bankruptcy.
GM, which also went through bankruptcy, received $49.5 billion in the U.S. bailout. The federal government has lowered its ownership interest in the company to 26.5 percent from 61 percent after selling part of the stake in November. Ford Motor Co. did not seek federal government assistance.
The National Economic Council report said that since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy last year, the industry as a whole had created 115,000 jobs. Any claim that the administration can make that it saved or restored jobs is a plus for it in an environment where unemployment hovers around 9 percent.