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« Coburn To Run for Re-Election | Blog Home Page | MN Supreme Court Hearing Concludes »

Obama Defends Government Role In GM

Calling the federal government a "reluctant stakeholder" in General Motors, President Obama said he's confident that by taking the right steps, bankruptcy could be just a minor bump in the road for the iconic American brand.

"It's not just any company we're talking about," Obama said after attempting to justify the dramatic steps being taken. "If well managed, a new GM will emerge that can provide a new generation of Americans with a chance to live out their dreams, that can out-compete automakers around the world, and that can once again be an integral part of America's economic future. And when that happens, we can truly say that what is good for General Motors and all who work there is good for the United States of America."

Obama, speaking in the Grand Foyer surrounded by members of the Cabinet and top economic advisers, actually said that the quick bankruptcy of Chrysler shows that government action can be successful.

"[Some experts] predicted that Chrysler's decision to enter bankruptcy would lead to an immediate collapse in consumer confidence that would send car sales over a cliff. They were wrong," he said. "Chrysler sold more cars in May than it did in April, in part because consumers were comforted by our extraordinary commitment."

The president repeatedly spoke of his administration's reluctance in taking what he said would be a 60 percent ownership stake in the company, requiring the commitment of billions of additional dollars. And despite that majority stake, he said the government would largely let a new board call the shots, while also promising the company would be making more fuel efficient cars.

"There are a number of principles that are going to govern our behavior as a shareholder in this company and others, one of which is no involvement in day-to-day business matters," a senior administration official told reporters last night. "That will be a continuing principle for us."