The federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler cost U.S. taxpayers roughly $80 billion back in 2009, but only two years later, it appears Uncle Sam will get most of its money back. The Associated Press reports that the Obama Administration now estimates that the bailout will "only" cost taxpayers $14 billion. That's down significantly from the projected 60 percent loss estimated by the Treasury Department back in 2009, and the money is also expected to arrive much sooner than originally expected.

The Obama Administration released the more optimistic view of bailout payback prospects in advance of a visit by the President to a Chrysler plant in Ohio. Conveniently, Chrysler last week paid off its $5.9 billion in U.S. loans and $1.7 billion in Canadian loans, putting the bailouts back in the news, albeit with a positive spin. GM, meanwhile, has already paid back more than half its $50 billion in loans, and the government still holds a significant portion of GM stock, which it can sell to further cut the cost of the bailout.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner points to the bailouts as a cornerstone of the resurgence of manufacturing jobs, adding "While we will not get back all our investments in the industry, we will recover much more than predicted."

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