In remarks Tuesday morning before the United Auto Workers conference in Washington., the president said union workers would have been hung out to dry if it were up to naysayers who suggested Detroit's auto industry should be allowed to go bankrupt. Some 400,000 jobs auto industry jobs disappeared the year before he took office, he said.
"If we had turned our backs on you; if America had thrown in the towel; GM and Chrysler wouldn't exist today," Obama said. "The suppliers and distributors that get their business from those companies would have died off, too. Then even Ford could have gone down as well. Production: shut down. Factories: shuttered."
Now, he says, GM is the No. 1 one automaker in the world, with the highest profits in its 100-year history. Chrysler is growing faster in America than any other car company and Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories. He said the entire auto industry has added more than 200,000 new jobs over the past 2 1/2 years.
Obama said critics of the bailout plan in 2009 are trying to rewrite history and take credit for the plan now that the auto industry is back on its feet. "These are the folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, 'you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.' Now they're saying they were right all along."
The president said bipartisan trade agreements will increase the number of Detroit cars sold in other countries. He signed an executive order Tuesday creating an inter-agency Trade Enforcement Unit to monitor and enforce unfair trade practices in countries such as China.
"American workers are the best workers on Earth, and when the playing field is level, I promise you -- America will always win," he said.