Time for another victory lap

White House officials have made no secret of the fact that they want more credit for successfully rescuing the American automotive industry, one of President Obama’s biggest but under-reported success stories. The president’s team not only wants to help get the word out, but also intends to use this to boost Obama’s standing in states like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

Fortunately for the White House, all of the news related to the bailout continues to be good.

Chrysler said Tuesday that it had paid back $7.6 billion in loans from the American and Canadian governments, marking another significant step in the revival of the company, the smallest of the Detroit automakers.

Chrysler said it made payments of $5.9 billion to the United States Treasury and $1.7 billion to Export Development Canada in a series of transactions completed Tuesday morning. The payments retired outstanding loans and covered interest on the debt.

Chrysler’s chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, planned to formally announce the move at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon at an assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Mich…. “The loans gave us a rare second chance to demonstrate what the people of this company can deliver,” Mr. Marchionne said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to those whose intervention allowed Chrysler Group to re-establish itself as a strong and viable carmaker.”

The Obama administration is hailing the repayment as proof that its policy worked — an argument that has the benefit of being true. Indeed, Obama’s policy has proven so effective, Chrysler is paying back American taxpayers six years early.

Remember, when the loans went out, most believed we’d never see that money again, and that Chrysler would fail anyway. Indeed, it was one of the main Republican talking points in 2009 — the rescue would fail, so it’s better to let the industry die.

As E.J. Dionne Jr. recently noted, “Far too little attention has been paid to the success of the government’s rescue of the Detroit-based auto companies, and almost no attention has been paid to how completely and utterly wrong bailout opponents were when they insisted it was doomed to failure.”

With this in mind, Democrats are on the offensive, calling out Republican presidential candidates who saw the crisis and said officials should do nothing. This video was released by the DNC this morning:

At a certain level, this is a double-whammy for the GOP. Not only did Obama’s policy work when Republicans guaranteed the opposite, but this also serves as an example of the federal government working effectively and competently to rescue the backbone of American manufacturing.

It’s no wonder the White House wants another victory lap.