Obama: Bailout Was Worth It

Posted October 14th, 2011 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says a Michigan auto plant making cars with South Korean parts is proof his economic bailout package for the auto industry has paid off.

Speaking alongside South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at a General Motors plant outside the city of Detroit, Mr. Obama said the hundreds of thousands of jobs saved by the bailout has made the effort worthwhile.

He also spoke about the free trade agreement with South Korea that was passed by Congress earlier this week, telling workers at the plant that the agreement would create more jobs for Americans, rather than take them away.

President Lee, who made his fortune in the South Korean auto industry, told workers that he and President Obama have discussed at great length how to revive the U.S. auto industry. He said he learned from his years in the business that the key to surviving difficulties is cooperation between workers and managers.

The White House says during GM's bankruptcy restructuring two years ago, the joint venture with General Motors Korea saved the plant from shutdown, preserving 1,750 jobs.

The state of Michigan was hit hard by the recent economic downturn. Its unemployment rate stands at 11.2 percent — the third highest in the nation.

Mr. Obama has said the trade deal passed in the U.S. Congress this week will open South Korea's market to U.S.-made automobiles and other goods, supporting 70,000 U.S. jobs and boosting American exports by $11 billion.

The North Korean nuclear dispute has been at the center of talks since Mr. Lee's visit began Wednesday. In a joint press conference Thursday, both President Lee and Obama agreed that they remain united in their approach to the isolated communist regime.