Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) said today that the Chrysler’s repaying the loan given to them by the American people, six years earlier than expected, was proof that the auto bailout of 2008 was a huge success.  Chrysler announced they will repay $5.9 billion in loans to American taxpayers, marking a remarkable turnaround for the company and the U.S. auto industry.  Also today, it was reported that American manufacturers have added nearly 200,000 jobs in the past year—the highest manufacturing jobs growth since 1998

“Just like many other Members of Congress, I was hesitant to give the American auto giants the billions of dollars needed for them to dig out from under the crisis they created themselves.  I said at the time that I was unwilling to play Russian Roulette with American jobs by gambling whether Detroit was able to survive without the help.  I voted for the bailout, and that risk has proven to have been worth taking. 

“Studies at the time predicted that New York State would stand to lose over 144,000 jobs if the Big Three collapsed, and that one in 10 jobs nationwide is at least indirectly connected to the auto industry.  Our economy was on very shaky ground in December 2008, and could not afford the collapse of these longtime economic pillars.  Our emerging recovery owes a debt to this, and other difficult decisions, made by Congress from 2008-2010. 

“I find it very interesting in retrospect that several Republican candidates for President in 2012, including Gov. Romney, Gov. Pawlenty and Speaker Gingrich, were more than willing to let the auto industry fail.  They should admit they were wrong, and that President Obama was right. I am certain we will see statements from each of them saying this.  I said in 2008 that I hoped this would be the last time the government had to clean up the mess made by corporations, and how I looked forward to the day the loan was paid back in full to the taxpayers.  At least in the case of Chrysler, that day is today.”

Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and one of the authors of the Open Fuel Standard, which would make alternative energy options standard in new vehicles, with the phase in beginning in 2014.