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July 20, 2010
Auto industry payback may surprise U.S. taxpayers


WASHINGTON -- Saving Detroit's auto industry may be a better deal for U.S. taxpayers than anyone expected.

A Free Press analysis suggests that taxpayers could get back about $74 billion of the $86 billion the government made available in 2008 and 2009 to save General Motors, Chrysler and Ally Financial, the former GMAC.

So far, the industry has paid the government $18.3 billion in debt, interest and dividends, and the prospects for payback have improved thanks to a rebound in vehicle sales and profits at the three companies. That includes the $1.5 billion Chrysler Financial has paid off and a $5-billion aid plan for suppliers that turned a profit.

Although no independent analysis has found that the government could break even, GM, Chrysler and Ally have promised to try to pay back the U.S. Treasury entirely.

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