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Obama 'Committed' to US Auto Industry

February 25, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and a nationwide viewing audience Tuesday night, voicing support for the embattled U.S. auto industry as he addressed the nation's ongoing energy crisis.

In the months ahead, policies set forth by the new administration will help to determine the fate of the OEMs.

"Everybody recognizes the years of bad decision making and the global recession that pushed our automakers to the brink," Obama said. "We should not and will not protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win."

The Presidential Task Force on Autos, a brain trust to be led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic adviser Lawrence Summers, is expected to be named and convened by Mar. 31. Their first task will be to decide the extent of federal aid to the Big Three. General Motors has received $13 billion in loans, Chrysler has borrowed $4 billion, and the two companies have said they will need $16.5 billion and $5 billion more, respectively, to stay in business.

Without going into specifics, the president seemed to indicate that the auto industry would not be left out of his sweeping reforms.

"Millions of jobs depend on it, scores of communities depend on it," he said, "and I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it."

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