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Roundtable on the Auto Bailout

By Special Report w/Bret Baier, Special Report w/Bret Baier - July 30, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Special Guests | Steve Hayes, Erin Billings, Charles Krauthammer

The following is a rush transcript of the July 30, 2010, edition of "Special Report With Bret Baier." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Last year many thought this industry would keep losing jobs as it has for the better part of the past decade. Today, U.S. automakers have added 55,000 jobs since last June, the strongest job growth in more than 10 years in the auto industry.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: President Obama at a GM auto plant today claiming the government bailout saved the American car industry.

Let's bring in our panel, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; Erin Billings from Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

So, Steve, does the performance of the big three automakers over the last year vindicate the Obama and the Bush bailouts?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: No, I don't think it does. If you look at what we spent, $50 billion on GM alone, it's no wonder that we could save a million jobs or add 55,000 jobs. I just don't think it's any great accomplishment.

And if you look at what they've done, the president seems obsessed with this Chevy Volt. He was in one a few weeks ago, in one again today, and drove it a few feet, apparently. It's a car that costs, that retails for $41,000, and according to this terrific article in The New York Times, is basically offering the performance and space of a $15,000 economy car. That's what we're getting for spending all this money, and to a certain extent the future of GM is depending on the success of this car, which people are not going to pay $41,000 to buy.

WALLACE: Erin, an awful lot of people are going to sit there and say this is not only Obama it was also Bush before him, and if had not been for government intervention the auto industry might have gone under and ripple effect, that could have been millions of jobs -- not just a million in the car industry.

ERIN BILLINGS, DEPUTY EDITOR, ROLL CALL: And that's the argument we heard from the Obama administration today, we heard that from Democrats, as well. He is obviously using this to differentiate Democrats from Republicans. He was very much a candidate today -- very much in campaign mode, if you will.

And this was -- this is sort of a bright spot in an otherwise bleak economy. But you take that against the fact that economic growth is slow. People realize that. Consumer confidence is not high. Consumer spending is not increasing. And the unemployment rate is still hovering at 10 percent.

So, this is one small positive thing for the administration and their economic policies, but I think given the broader context people are still really concerned about where this country is going.

WALLACE: In Wendell Goler's piece, Charles, he had a clip from an auto industry expert who said in fact this may be the best spent financial money of all of these bailouts because of the fact that, he said, the vast majority of it is going to be repaid to the government, to the taxpayers.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Whether it is well-spent will depend on what the success the companies have in selling the car. Anybody can create the jobs if you give them $50 billion. The question is, can you create products that people are going to want to buy?

And I think Steve's point is very strong. The Chevy Volt is a disaster. It's extremely expensive. Every time you buy it the purchaser has to pay $41,000, and added on to that will be a federal government subsidy of $7,500 -- so it's a $50,000 car.

The only people who will buy it are going to be very rich people who will park it outside their townhouse for ostentatious show of how virtuous they are while they drive around in their Cadillac Escalade.

If this is how a publicly run big corporation operates, it will be a disaster. This is a classic example of what happens when the political and ideological desires of an administration are imposed on a private company. That's how the Soviets worked it with the five-year plan and it didn't work.

continued...

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Krauthammer writes a syndicated column for The Washington Post. He is also a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.

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Stephen Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard in Washington, DC, and author of two New York Times bestsellers. He writes frequently on electoral politics and national security.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Last year many thought this industry would keep losing jobs as it has for the better part of the past decade. Today, U.S. automakers have added 55,000 jobs since last June, the strongest job growth in more than 10 years in the auto industry.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: President Obama at a GM auto plant today claiming the government bailout saved the American car industry.

Let's bring in our panel, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; Erin Billings from Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

So, Steve, does the performance of the big three automakers over the last year vindicate the Obama and the Bush bailouts?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: No, I don't think it does. If you look at what we spent, $50 billion on GM alone, it's no wonder that we could save a million jobs or add 55,000 jobs. I just don't think it's any great accomplishment.

And if you look at what they've done, the president seems obsessed with this Chevy Volt. He was in one a few weeks ago, in one again today, and drove it a few feet, apparently. It's a car that costs, that retails for $41,000, and according to this terrific article in The New York Times, is basically offering the performance and space of a $15,000 economy car. That's what we're getting for spending all this money, and to a certain extent the future of GM is depending on the success of this car, which people are not going to pay $41,000 to buy.

WALLACE: Erin, an awful lot of people are going to sit there and say this is not only Obama it was also Bush before him, and if had not been for government intervention the auto industry might have gone under and ripple effect, that could have been millions of jobs -- not just a million in the car industry.

ERIN BILLINGS, DEPUTY EDITOR, ROLL CALL: And that's the argument we heard from the Obama administration today, we heard that from Democrats, as well. He is obviously using this to differentiate Democrats from Republicans. He was very much a candidate today -- very much in campaign mode, if you will.

And this was -- this is sort of a bright spot in an otherwise bleak economy. But you take that against the fact that economic growth is slow. People realize that. Consumer confidence is not high. Consumer spending is not increasing. And the unemployment rate is still hovering at 10 percent.

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