Some new data was released this week on U.S. manufacturing, and the news was encouraging: the U.S. auto industry has "hit the gas pedal." The White House, as it's done before, is taking a victory lap.
Now, our auto industry is once again a source of economic strength, with more and more of the world's top-of-the-line, fuel-efficient vehicles being made by American workers in American factories. In fact, the number of cars coming off our assembly lines just reached its highest level in 12 years. [...]
[T]he number of vehicles built on American assembly lines since 2000 rose to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 13.2 million vehicles in July. The increase in auto production mirrors the growing strength of America's manufacturing sector, which has added more than 700,000 jobs since early 2010.
The White House, which produced the above chart, has plenty of reasons to be happy. The first and most obvious, of course, is that a stronger U.S. auto industry is necessarily good news for the domestic economy.
But there's also the matter of who was right in 2009 and who wasn't. President Obama took a big risk launching his rescue policy during the economic crisis. It wasn't a popular idea, and though it looks like a no-brainer with the benefit of hindsight, there was no guarantee the plan would work.
In July 2010, NBC News' First Read said, "As the GM bailout goes, so goes the Obama presidency." More than four years later, the White House probably thinks that sounds pretty good.
And then there are the policy's critics, whose condemnations don't hold up nearly as well.