In his recent stop here in Detroit, Vice-President Joe Biden went out of his way to talk about how the Obama administration helped GM survive the great recession. It should be noted that George W. Bush actually started the process, however I imagine the distinction that Biden attempted to draw was between the fact that Mitt Romney did not support the auto bailouts and Barack Obama did.
Regardless of the jobs saved, conservatives by and large still oppose the bailouts and with the election process in full swing, pundits like Michelle Malkin have gone on the offensive to diminish the value of the program. Unfortunately all of the pundits seem to be working from the same flawed playbook.
Malkin laments the fact the GM is expanding its operations in other countries using “taxpayer” funds. As if she supports a government mandate dictating how GM can run its business. Conversely, you can bet that if GM failed because it didn’t compete globally like every other auto company is doing, Malkin would be first in line to suggest President Obama was at fault for supporting such a short-sighted business plan.
Malkin also blames Obama for the troubles GM is experiencing, even though the biggest drag on the company currently is its European division, which the board of GM, not Obama, decided to retain rather than sell back in 2009.
Another idea that seems to have really rankled the conservative pundits is the idea that the firing of GM CEO Rick Wagoner as part of the bailout is unprecedented. Never mind that this also happened with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and Chrysler. Never mind that GM lost $85 billion under Wagoner’s watch. Never mind that the government owns more than 50% of GM’s stock and is able to make any changes it wants. Never mind that Wagoner asked for and agreed to accept money from the government. And never mind that long before Obama became president, members of the board of GM maneuvered to get Wagoner removed. Conservatives don’t want government involved in “private” decisions.
Oddly enough these are often the same people who want to put preconditions on any individual who asks for and accepts government funds.
If you want to get welfare, conservatives think you should submit to a drug test and search for a job or get training for a new job. If you want to get food stamps, conservatives have a list of things that they don’t think you should be allowed to purchase. If you want to get Medicaid, conservatives won’t pay for an abortion even though it is a legal activity.
The reality is that the U.S. has a long history of setting preconditions for receiving government money. Acting like the requirements Rick Wagoner agreed to are an example of a massive socialist shift is outlandish.
As with most things these days it seems like this political posturing has more to do with the man at the top of the ticket than any actual policy concerns. But I suppose that is what happens when your number one goal is to make that man a one-term president and you use the theory of “anyone but” in deciding how to vote.