The bailout by the Obama administration of General Motors was a hot topic that divided the two presidential candidates at the presidential debate on Tuesday night. There were a wide variety of different issues discussed at the debate including foreign policy, the economy along with healthcare and the auto industry.
However, one of the hottest topics was the auto industry. Both incumbent President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney discussed the bailout and could not be further apart as to their opinions on the subject.
The president was busy touting the rescue plan that was funded by the Treasury Department for both General Motors and Chrysler. Romney has long been opposed to the auto bailout.
While Romney at one point in time supported programs for clean energy, he has also spoken out against the low-interest government funded loan program used to help fund many automotive startups, battery makers and other green businesses. During the first debate in Denver, Romney mentioned a number of companies by name and labeled startups in California like Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors as losers.There remains little doubt that the Energy Department’ loan program has had its share of clunkers, such as Solyndra, which was given $527 million and then went bankrupt. Another company this week that had been helped by the program also filed for bankruptcy protection. However, the outcome could be better for A123 Systems, which is based in Massachusetts.
A123 produces lithium-ion batteries and was one of a number of once aspiring supplier that was stung by the much slower that thought increase in demand for electric vehicles. The company is not closing and has sold off some of its businesses, such as it automotive arm, to JCI, an automotive supplier.