The president’s decision to loan money to the auto industry was the most unpopular part of his recovery efforts, but he continues to be vindicated. Chrysler has paid off its $6.7 billion in loans from our government and Canada’s, and that includes the full interest payments. And it paid back the money six full years ahead of schedule. Here’s the president’s statement.

Statement by President Obama on Chrysler’s Repayment

Chrysler’s repayment of its outstanding loans to the U.S. Treasury and American taxpayers marks a significant milestone for the turnaround of Chrysler and the countless communities and families who rely on the American auto industry. This announcement comes six years ahead of schedule and just two years after emerging from bankruptcy, allowing Chrysler to build on its progress and continue to grow as the economy recovers. Supporting the American auto industry required making some tough decisions, but I was not willing to walk away from the workers at Chrysler and the communities that rely on this iconic American company. I said if Chrysler and all its stakeholders were willing to take the difficult steps necessary to become more competitive, America would stand by them, and we did. While there is more work to be done, we are starting to see stronger sales, additional shifts at plants and signs of strength in the auto industry and our economy, a true testament to the resolve and determination of American workers across the nation.

This follows General Motors repayment of its loans and interest in April 2010, as well as its return to profitability in that year. The government still has a lot of money wrapped up in GM in the form of preferred shares and bondholder stock options. It’s not certain that the government will fully recoup its investment, although it seems likely to have been a winning investment over time simply through the maintenance of so many manufacturing jobs.

Let’s not forget what the Republicans said at the time the bailout was being discussed.

Surrogates for President Obama took aim Tuesday at several of his potential 2012 rivals for opposing the auto industry bailout, making clear that they plan on making the issue central to the debate in the battleground states of Michigan and Ohio.

The pointed criticism of Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman came as Chrysler paid more than $5.8 billion of the $10.5 billion they received from the U.S. government. All four had made critical comments of the $85 billion rescue of General Motors and Chrysler—a fact highlighted in a Democratic National Committee press call featuring former Govs. Ted Strickland of Ohio and Jennifer Granholm of Michigan.

Both Democrats suggested that the Republican presidential hopefuls’ stands should be an issue in next year’s campaign.
“I think we’ll be able to ask the question directly and honestly, where would Ohio’s economy be if Romney, or Pawlenty, or Gingrich, or Huntsman had been in the presidency and would have made the decision that would have allowed these thousands and thousands of jobs to be lost,” said Strickland.

All four Republicans had expressed reservations about the Obama plan. Romney raised questions about the U.S. government owning and having a say in running the car companies. Pawlenty said that auto manufacturers should seek a Chapter 11 protection rather than a taxpayer-funded bailout. Gingrich has cited the bailout as evidence that Obama is “the most radical president in American history.” And Huntsman said in 2008 that the companies should go through bankruptcy before a taxpayer-funded bailout should be considered.

Game. Set. Match.

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