Car Talk

When the federal government decided to bail out Chrysler and GM, I’ll admit I was torn. I am inherently skeptical of “too big to fail,” and I’m convinced that we have way too much corporate welfare. I’m a believer in free enterprise, defined as a genuinely level playing field, where private businesses all play by the same rules, and sink or swim on their own merits. But I also recognized that we were in the midst of a recession that might well have become a depression. The economy was so fragile–and the probable loss of American jobs that would accompany bankruptcy was so massive–that we really didn’t have a choice. I figured the taxpayers would lose a lot of money, but on balance, that would be cheaper than a depression.

I was wrong.

Yesterday, Chrysler repaid the nearly $5.9 billion lent to it by the administration, including fees and interest payments — and it did so six years ahead of schedule. Not only has Chrysler paid us back, but together, GM and Chrysler have added 115,000 new jobs since emerging from reorganization.

It was a gutsy call, and it paid off. But I’m sure the “Party of No” will explain it away, or credit the Bush Administration, just as they’ve tried to do with respect to another gutsy call–taking out Bin Ladin.