Obama to Visit Detroit Auto Show

President expected to highlight successful auto bailout.

by on Jan.11, 2016

President Barack Obama plans to attend this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

President Barack Obama will visit the North American International Auto Show later this month, where he is expected to highlight both the successful bailout of the Detroit auto industry and the economic turnaround that led to record U.S. auto sales last year.

The success of the auto industry – which some economists credit with helping pull the U.S. out of its deep recession – is a key topic for the president as he moves to cement his legacy during the final year of his presidency. Auto sales are forecast to set yet another record in 2016, topped the nearly 17.5 million sold last year.

For the Record!

The rebound of an industry that saw demand drop below 10 million in 2010 shows “America can do anything,” Obama said Saturday during his weekly radio address.

Acknowledging the costly bailout of General Motors and Chrysler “wasn’t popular,” the president said “I’d make that bet again any day of the week. Because today, the American auto industry is back.”

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President Obama has visited the Detroit automakers and suppliers regularly during his tenure in office.

Detroit automakers are generating record earnings, on the whole, and have been building both sales and market share – though foreign-owned brands still control more than half of the U.S. market.

Even so, the bailout remains controversial, especially among Republicans who contend it was too expensive and wasted taxpayer money – ultimately losing the U.S. Treasury about $9.3 billion. But Democrats contend the cost of letting two Detroit automakers would have been substantially greater, an estimated 2.6 million jobs at risk.

The debate over the bailout played heavily in the 2012 presidential election, and some political analysts believe it may have been the deciding factor that worked against GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who opposed the move. He lost key states Michigan and Ohio, both of which would have been seriously hit had GM and Chrysler folded.

Since emerging from bankruptcy, both those makers – as well as Ford, which avoided a bailout by mortgaging key assets – have been gaining traction. Chrysler has reported nearly five years of consecutive monthly sales gains. GM sales have also rebounded, though it has slipped to number three among global makers, its sales lagging both Toyota and Volkswagen.

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After reaching a low not seen in decades, American auto sales, in general, have rebounded sharply, beating the previous record of 17.35 million set in 2000. A new forecast by the National Automobile Dealers Association calls for sales to reach a new high 17.7 million in 2016.

The steady upsurge in demand has come even while housing and other economic indicators have ridden a rollercoaster over the last several years. And auto analysts remain upbeat about this coming year even while Wall Street investors worry about the recent slump in stock prices.

The auto industry is “the best way to illustrate how strongly the U.S. economy has come back since the depths of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said this past week.

During his initial run for the White House in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama visited Detroit several times. And once in office he quickly lent his support to the automotive bailout started by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

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Since then, a number of administration officials have visited the North American International Auto Show, but not the president. His planned stop in the Motor City on Jan. 20, would be part of a broader tour of the country planned to follow the annual State of the Union address, the last of his term.

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One Response to “Obama to Visit Detroit Auto Show”

  1. Me thinks Obama will land at Flint Bishop International Airport, so as to make a quick trip to Flint.
    He’ll come in tomorrow night to tour Flint while Gov. Snyder gives his State of the State speech.
    Hey Rick, Obama is going to be touring the shop floor. Hope all your documentation is up to date. #ISO #QTEC
    In all seriousness, Flint-Bishop is one of the finest airports in the USA for business travel.