Saturday, February 18, 2012

George Romney's Prodigal Son

An informative article at Motoramic by Justin Hyde on "What Mitt Romney Gets Wrong" re: the auto industry "bailout":
Young Willard with his father in better days.
Republican presidential hopeful Willard Mitt Romney renewed his opposition to the Obama administration's bailout of General Motors and Chrysler today in several Michigan newspapers, contending President Obama's rescue made the companies worse. I wish I could leave politics to the professionals, but Romney's take just doesn't square with the facts as I lived them...

 Let me explain, point by point (Romney's words excerpted in bold quotes):

"Three years ago, in the midst of an economic crisis, a newly elected President Barack Obama stepped in with a bailout for the auto industry."

In fact, the bailout began with President George W. Bush, who was forced to lend GM and Chrysler $17.4 billion in December 2008 after Senate Republicans blocked a rescue plan in Congress. Bush told reporters just last week that he was warned by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson that if he didn't act to shore up GM and Chrysler, up to 1 million jobs could vanish. Knowing what we know now, says Bush, "I'd do it again."

"The president tells us that without his intervention things in Detroit would be worse. I believe that without his intervention things there would be better."

The crux of Romney's argument: If Obama had not acted, private companies would have stepped in and run a "managed bankruptcy." What this ignores is that in the fall of 2008, before Obama was even sworn in, no one on Wall Street or anywhere else was willing to lend GM and Chrysler a penny — let alone the $81 billion they and their financial arms eventually needed.