Majority of Americans support saving the US auto industry

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 8-12 among 1,501 adults, finds that 56% say the loans the government made to GM and Chrysler were mostly good for the economy, while 38% say the loans to the automakers were mostly bad for the economy.

Opinion about the auto loans has reversed since October 2009. At that time, just 37% said the loans were mostly good for the economy while 54% expressed negative views.

Republicans remain more skeptical than Democrats about the GM and Chrysler loans, but Republican support for the loans has nearly doubled since 2009 — from 23% then to 44% today.

That’s a net swing of 35 points in favor of the idea that the auto bailout was good for the economy.

“I’d do it again,” former President Bush said Monday during the closing address at the annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas, according to The Detroit News. “I didn’t want there to be 21% unemployment.”

Chrysler repaid its loans last May, while GM has repaid about $23 billion. The U.S. Treasury owns 26% of GM’s shares. Chrysler reported a 2011 profit last week while GM, which is also profitable, will report full-year earnings next week.

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