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Auto bailout: U.S. taxpayers may lose $14B

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Auto bailout: U.S. taxpayers may lose $14B
Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO of General Motors, talks at the Chevrolet press event at the 2011 North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center in Detroit on January 10, 2011. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) -- U.S. taxpayers may lose $14 billion of the money spent on bailing out the U.S. auto industry, despite the industry's recent recovery, the White House said.

The loss -- 17.5 percent of the $80 billion in bailout money given to the industry -- was down from $48 billion, or 60 percent of the bailout money, projected two years ago, the White House said in a report titled "The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry."

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President Barack Obama Friday visits a Chrysler Group LLC facility in Toledo, Ohio.

"There is no joy ... in recognizing that all of this money will not be returned," top White House auto and manufacturing adviser Ron Bloom told reporters Wednesday.

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But the bailout saved jobs and prevented a broader industry collapse, he said.

"So while we are obviously extremely conscious of our obligation to get every penny we can for the taxpayer, we're also not going to apologize for the fact that there are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans who are working today" because of the bailouts, Bloom said.

The White House report cited "independent analysts" as saying the money invested in General Motors Co. and Chrysler ultimately saved taxpayers "tens of billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs," including the cost of unemployment insurance, taxes the government would have lost if the big Detroit automakers had collapsed "and costs to state and local governments."

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"Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, the auto industry has created 115,000 jobs, its strongest period of job growth since the late 1990s," the report said.

GM is now mostly owned by the U.S. Treasury. Chrysler is mostly owned by the United Auto Workers union and Italian automaker Fiat SpA, which controls the Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker.

The Obama administration has said it wants to sell its remaining GM shares in the next few months.

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"That is not a business the president wants to be in," Bloom said. "He's said many, many times, I did not run for office to be (chief executive officer) of an automobile company."

The Treasury holds 6 percent of Chrysler and plans to sell those shares to Fiat, which said Friday it hoped to do by next week.

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