WASHINGTON – Unexpectedly good news about the government’s auto industry bailout has bolstered the case for comprehensive federal regulations for the financial system, President Barack Obama said in his weekly address Saturday.
Obama, facing public unease over unprecedented government interventions in the economy, noted that the Treasury Department found that the bailout of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group would “end up costing taxpayers a fraction of what was originally feared,” because those companies had performed far better than expected after getting federal help.
But to solve the underlying economic problems, Obama said Congress should pass his financial regulatory package designed to end taxpayer bailouts and shed more light on complex financial dealings.
According to some polls, the public narrowly supports new financial rules.
The auto bailout was less popular. Sixty-one percent opposed it in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll in December 2008.
But Obama said Saturday that the auto bailout was “absolutely necessary,” because GM and Chrysler were on the brink of collapse. “The best estimates are that more than 1 million American workers could have lost their jobs,” he said.
At the time, analysts put the cost of the bailout at as high as $130 billion, but the Treasury Department said last week that it would be closer to $28 billion.