President Barack Obama will be in Detroit on Friday to tout the success of one his administration's more controversial decisions -- the bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler. Both automakers were facing bankruptcy last year when the federal government stepped in and offered $86 billion to help the companies transform themselves into leaner, more competitive operations.

The bailouts have been controversial and have led some to scornfully refer to GM as "government motors." Still, the administration's efforts have helped create 55,000 jobs during the last year, according to a White House report, which also says a million or more jobs would have been lost if the companies were allowed to fail.

The plants Obama is visiting today are emblematic of the revival both GM and Chrysler are seeing, the result of stronger consumer demand for domestic autos. Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant on Detroit's east side, which produces the newly revamped Jeep Grand Cherokee, has added a second shift.

No Summer Shutdown This Summer

Chrysler's new lease on life is also attributable to Italy's Fiat, which stepped in and bought a chunk of Chrysler prior to last year's bankruptcy. The merging of the two companies has brought new technology to Chrysler, plant employee Bernie Kitter told NPR. The president's visit has further lifted workers' spirits, says Kitter, who hopes Obama's appearance means the plant has a strong future ahead of it.

The president's second stop will be at a GM assembly plant in Hamtramck, a small working-class city surrounded by Detroit. The Hamtramck facility is one of nine that GM said last month would remain open during the routine summer shutdown to keep up with the pace of demand for its new cars.

The plant is also the site where GM's new Chevrolet Volt electric car (pictured, with Obama in an earlier press event) will be built. The $41,000 vehicle, which can go 40 miles on a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries before the gasoline engine kicks in, will hit dealer showrooms in seven states by year-end. GM intends to produce 10,000 Volts, with plans to expand production to 30,000 in 2012.

Not Yet Recovered

Though the companies and, by extension, Detroit are experiencing a revival, there is evidence aplenty that the industry isn't the job-creating powerhouse it once was. Obama's route to the factories will take him past abandoned warehouses and decayed factories, NPR reported, a reminder of the 334,000 area jobs that were lost in 2008 alone.

Auto sales have improved over last year's record lows, but the administration says it's still too soon to say the U.S. auto industry has recovered. Though a gain of 55,000 may be reason to celebrate, much more work remains to do to restore Detroit's long-lost luster.

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I am going to buy a new Camero, but that will be my last G.M. car. I was waiting for this car for years to be available and when it came out i hesitated because of the bailouts but now im going to get one.

August 06 2010 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How many jobs did they lose when they shut down American plants and dealerships?

August 06 2010 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love how the people keep ignoring the fact that tons of jobs, towns and dealers were destroyed because of these decisions. YAAAYYY 55,000 jobs created, but at what cost? Why was it necessary to terminate hundreds of thousands of dealerships???? NO ONE has answered this question. Everyone keeps trying to sweep it under the rug by focusing on the "positive" things that came from the fact that these companies were handed billions of our dollars, just to turn around and throw us into the unemployment line!

August 04 2010 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


August 02 2010 at 4:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
helen nanny

Acording to Beck, he drove an hydrogen car that GM had designed, before the take over. He said the car would have put ahead again, economically. It was so energy eficient, and cost efective he said it was an amazing car. He drove it for over a month and loved it. What happened to it? Who has it? I will bet the Communist run
unions have all the contracts for this electric car. That is probably why it costs $41,000 . Millions out of work, and millions of lost homes, and Obama said we are broke. Of course he is talking about America, not him and his cronies and the Clintons, that have horded the money in UK investments. Voebox: This is Bushes say?and know? Maybe they will hand you some change in your cup.

August 01 2010 at 10:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

GM has screwed over it's high seniority salaried and UAW employes with forced buyouts / severance packages and plant closing over the last 5 years. Now they are hiring new employees with less benefits and pay. PLEASE!!! I had 18 months to retire as a salaried employee. I was forced to take a severance package inorder to cheat me out of my retirement. Myself, family and friends will NEVER buy GM. GM has built NEW plants in Russia, China, Korea and Mexico. Where will your next GM car be made? Hyundai and Honda have more USA content andf Plant capacity then GM. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

August 01 2010 at 12:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unions and local Politicians wanted control and $$$, I will avoid GM cars now,
and Chrysler...........a long time GM former customer ! Next on the agenda for
these gangsters are Trade Barriers to force us to buy from them.

August 01 2010 at 12:20 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

How can you say you "created" 55,000 jobs when 279,000 of 334,000 workforce are still unemployed? Obama's got a lot more "creating" to do.

July 31 2010 at 11:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

yep the bailout created 55,000 new jobs alright. its a shame that most were in foreign countries like mexico. i know , because thats were chrysler sent my job.

July 31 2010 at 10:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Obama is bragging about 55000 jobs being created because of the bailouts. At an $86 billion price tag, each job costs $1.56 million to create. Most people do not make that much in a life time. It doesn't sound like it was a good investment to me.

July 31 2010 at 7:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply