President Obama's news conference -- full text
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Q: Thank you, Mr. President. On the domestic auto industry, have you determined that bankruptcy is the only option to restructure Chrysler? And do you believe that the deep cuts in plant closings that were outlined this week by General Motors are sufficient?Skip to next paragraph
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OBAMA: Let me speak to Chrysler first because the clock is ticking on Chrysler coming up with a plan. I am actually very hopeful, more hopeful than I was 30 days ago, that we can see a resolution that maintains a viable Chrysler auto company out there.
What we've seen is the unions have made enormous sacrifices on top of sacrifices that they had previously made. You've now seen the major debt holders come up with a set of potential concessions that they can live with.
All of that promises the possibility that you can get a Fiat-Chrysler merger and that you have an ongoing concern. The details have not yet been finalized, so I don't want to jump the gun. But I am feeling more optimistic than I was about the possibilities of that getting done.
With respect to GM, we're going to have another 30 days. They're still in the process of presenting us with their plans. But I've always said that GM has a lot of good product there, and if they can get through these difficult times and engage in some of the very difficult choices that they've already made, that they can emerge a strong, competitive, viable company.
And that's my goal in this whole process. I would love to get the U.S. government out of the auto business as quickly as possible. We have a circumstance in which a bad recession compounded some great weaknesses already in the auto industry.
And it was my obligation and continues to be my obligation to make sure that any taxpayer dollars that are in place to support the auto industry are aimed not at short-term fixes that continue these companies as wards of the state, but rather institutes the kind of restructuring that allows them to be strongly competitive in the future. I think we're moving in that direction.
Last point, you asked about Chrysler bankruptcy. It was the prudent and appropriate thing for Chrysler to do to engage in the filings that they — that received some notice a while back because they had to prepare for possible contingencies.
It's not clear that they're going to have to use it. The fact that the major debt-holders appear ready to make concessions means that even if they ended up having to go through some sort of bankruptcy, it would be a very quick type of bankruptcy and they could continue operating and emerge on the other side in a much stronger position.
So my goal is to make sure that we've got a strong, viable, competitive auto industry. I think some tough choices are being made. There's no denying that there's significant hardship involved, particularly for the workers and the families in these communities.
And we're going to be coming behind whatever plan is in place to make sure that the federal government is providing as much assistance as we have to ensure that people are landing back on their feet, even as we strengthen these core businesses.
Jake? Where's Jake? There he is.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You've said in the past that waterboarding, in your opinion, is torture. Torture is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions. Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?
OBAMA: What I've said — and I will repeat — is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.