The presumptive Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, is campaigning this week in Michigan and Ohio and claiming credit for the controversial auto bailouts, even as he’s criticizing them. And Team Obama, joined by surrogates and such chief water-carriers as United Auto Workers President Bob King, counter that Romney wanted to “let Detroit go bankrupt,” which is exactly what the Obama administration did.
Facts, as John Adams sagely said, can be stubborn things.
“Romney has been vocally opposed to the auto loans for the past 3 years,” King said in a statement released today. ”But now he’s claiming credit for President Obama’s intervention to save the industry. President Obama and Democrats in Congress provided emergency bridge loans for an auto industry that was a casualty of a collapsed credit market, when no private investors or companies would provide financing. “
True. But they “let” General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC “go bankrupt” first. Because bankruptcy (albeit of the manipulated, managed, favor-your-pals sort) was deemed to be the only effective way to rescue two of Detroit’s three automakers from the kind of collapse that would have pulled down rival Ford Motor Co. and the industry’s supply base with them. President Obama reached that conclusion; President Bush reached that conclusion (and would do it again, he said recently); and even Romney, the Republican that Detroit Auto homers are supposed to hate, reached that conclusion, too, as he told The Detroit News in February in advance of the Michigan primary.
Bottom line, he told The News, is that he would not have let the companies fail if private capital could not be mustered to recapitalize the crippled automakers amid the global financial meltdown of late 2008 and into ’09. It couldn’t, as every reputable financial source has made clear, repeatedly. The bankruptcy machine designed to process failed companies, to match capital with valued assets, effectively had ceased to operate and likely could not have functioned adequately to finance what would have been the largest industrial bankruptcy in the American history.
No matter, that, when Democratic operatives, the UAW’s political shop and Team Obama can wave a New York Times clip with Romney’s byline and a headline that reads “Let Detroit go Bankrupt.” That’s all they need; and Romney, in an almost comically contorted sort of way, can’t seem to understand that his continual hair-splitting on whether he would or would not have let Detroit go bankrupt is moot because that’s exactly what Obama did.