Mitt Romney's Auto Bailout Claims Take a Beating
Mitt Romney's Detroit News op-ed about how President Obama saved the auto industry the wrong way and therefore sucks has drawn a significant critique: Romney doesn't know what he's talking about. First off, let's not forget that the Bush administration had made loans to GM and Chrysler before Obama was even in office. We can see why Romney would gloss over that, but more interesting is the widely held view by the New York Times' Michael Shear:
Officials in Mr. Obama’s administration, and many economists in both parties, scoff at Mr. Romney’s suggestion that a managed bankruptcy was possible without the billions of dollars in government aid to the car companies. They say Wall Street and private equity firms in early 2009 were in no position to lend the kind of money that the companies needed to manage the bankruptcy process in an orderly fashion.
Steven Rattner, who headed up Obama's auto industry task force, is still more blunt, saying that Romney's claims about how the auto companies could have been saved "would get somebody a C-grade at best at the Harvard Business School" and that, in the 2009 search for private financing for the industry, "We took every phone call, we made as many outgoing calls as we could think of."
Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), too, makes this point, writing that "in early 2009 I met with Bob Nardelli, who was at the time the Chairman and CEO of Chrysler, and he told me that if the government did not act as the 'lender of last resort' the company was three weeks away from liquidation."
A central part of Romney's insistence on his way of doing things, though, is that he doesn't think unionized auto workers suffered enough; he would have made sure the beating they took was fatal, to their unions at least. But as Peters continues,
In Mitt Romney's experience as a leveraged buyout expert, he learned to put the claims of creditors and investors ahead of workers, but what President Obama understood is that the value of the American auto industry is more than just its return on investment for shareholders—it's also the millions of good paying, middle class jobs that the industry supports.
Romney's false claims about bailouts and union bosses and crony capitalism may play well in the Republican primary he's currently fighting to win. But if he makes it to the general election, the strength of the auto industry and the jobs resurgence it's bringing with it will speak for the president who made it possible, not the candidate who wanted none of it.