US ex-President George W. Bush defends bridge loans to GM, Chrysler

Article by Anita Panait, on February 7, 2012

Former U.S. President George W. Bush upheld his administration’s decision to dole out bridging loans to General Motors and Chrysler Group during the 2008 national financial crisis. Speaking at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, Bush said that he approved the loans on the advice of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who convinced him that failure to act could lead to a full-blown depression.

Bush said he believes in the philosophy, "if you make a bad decision in business, you ought to pay.” He, however, said that "sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy." Bush told NADA’s outgoing president Stephen Wade that he didn't want to risk the country going into a depression and having a 21% unemployment rate."I'd make the same decision again if I had to."

The former president approved the loans at the last weeks of his term, allowing GM and Chrysler to undergo intense restructurings overseen by the Obama administration. GM and Chrysler received the first of the loans, at $4 billion each, in December 2008 and January 2009.

Bush distributed a total of $17.4 billion in loans to the companies before the next administration expanded the amount to $62 billion. President Barack Obama has said that the rescue loans given to the auto industry was an example of policy that protected U.S. jobs.

Republican Party’s presidential candidates, including frontrunner Mitt Romney, criticized the bailout moves, saying they interfered with private market and added to the national deficit. The bailout efforts, however, were successful as GM, now known as General Motors Co., has since returned to profitability and regained its global leadership in car sales. Chrysler, meanwhile, evolved as Chrysler Group LLC, and saw its first profits since it was taken over by Fiat SpA. [source: Autonews]

Topics: gm, chrysler

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