George W. Bush says he decided to rescue General Motors and Chrysler in November 2008 because of the huge consequences for the economy if he did not act -- and despite his belief that the carmakers had dug their own hole.
"My economic advisers had warned that the immediate bankruptcy of the Big Three could cost more than a million jobs, decrease tax revenues by $150 billion and set back American's GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars," he writes of his bailout of the U.S. auto industry in his memoir, Decision Points.
Bush blames the auto industry's woes on "decades of poor management" that "saddled automakers with enormous health-care and pension costs. They had been slow to recognize changes in the market. As a result, they had been outcompeted by foreign manufacturers in the product and price."
Bush also discloses that he rejected a request for a bailout before the 2008 presidential election from GM CEO Rick Wagoner.
Bush says he reversed his stance that government should stay out of the auto business when he saw how a bankruptcy would hammer the economy. Bush also considered his successor in the decision.
"I told Barack Obama that I wouldn't let the automakers fail," Bush writes. "I won't dump this mess on him."