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White House touts GM loan repayment

From NBC's Mark Murray
Lost in today's SCOTUS, financial reform, and even immigration news was this pretty big story: "General Motors Co. on Wednesday said it paid off a $6.7 billion U.S. government loan ahead of schedule in a move the company hopes will help revive an image marred by last year's bailout," the Wall Street Journal writes. "The loan is a fraction of the $50 billion GM received from the U.S. government last year. The big payback will come when GM goes public and the U.S. can begin to sell off its 60% stake in the company."

And the White House is trumpeting the news. Here's a blog post by chief White House economic adviser Larry Summers:

What a difference a year makes. Just about a year ago, the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse. Today, General Motors announced that it has repaid its $6.7 billion loan to the U.S. government in full five years ahead of schedule, and Chrysler announced that, after taking one-time charges last year associated with its restructuring, it produced an operating profit in the first quarter of 2010 for the first time since the economic crisis began. The prospect of a faster than anticipated exit from government involvement and a return of most of the taxpayers' investment in these companies has materially improved.

This turnaround wasn't an accident of history. It was the result of considered and politically difficult decisions made by President Obama to provide GM and Chrysler – and indeed the auto industry – a lifeline, if they could demonstrate the will to reshape their businesses and chart a path toward long-term viability without ongoing government assistance.