Romney and the Auto Bailout

Romney and the Auto Bailout February 27, 2012

It’s kind of fun watching Mitt Romney try to construct a coherent position on the auto bailout. He was against it before he was for it, but he’s still against it, but Obama did exactly what he suggested even though he wrote an op-ed blasting the whole idea. Here’s how he tried to explain it during the Arizona debate:

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Josh Marshall has some fun with it:

But Romney just took his position on the auto bailout even further into total incoherence. He opposes the auto bailout. But now he only opposes the money given before the bankruptcy phase. And what happened when they put the companies through a managed bankruptcy was what Mitt wanted all the time. So they actually figured out what to do from Mitt. Only that wasn’t good either because it was a sell out to the unions. In a Rube Goldberg kind of way it sort of makes sense. But having tried to pander in every possible way at the time and doing the same thing now, the whole thing just comes out as an incomprehensible jumble.

It comes out that way because it is. And it always has been. He said in that November 18, 2008 op-ed piece that he wanted a managed bankruptcy for the automakers but no federal help. That wasn’t possible. There was no way they were going to get the bridge financing for that given the condition of the credit markets at the time. So Obama did the right thing by financing the managed bankruptcy and the results are obvious; GM and Chrysler have come roaring back to life and are profitable and expanding, all in a remarkably short period of time. But Romney can’t admit that, so he has to invent some crazy rationale that sounds like a 16 year old trying to explain to his parents why he came home late.

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  • davidct

    It is against Republican dogma to ever give the president credit for anything positive. Obama is a human being. It is impossible for him to be wrong about everything consistently – unless of course he is the Antichrist which some of the more religious will agree with. It is hard to know if any of the current candidates has any good plans for the good of the country when they are forced to lie to have any hope of being nominated.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    All the mainstream economists and even some of the Chicago Boys recognized government financing of the auto companies was the easiest and fastest way to deal with the pending bankruptcies. Even Romney knew that. However, as davidct explains in #1, since Obama was pushing the idea, then Romney and the rest of the Teabaggers Republican Party have to denigrate the bailout for purely ideological reasons.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    But Romney can’t admit that

    This is the root of the problem. He simply cannot bring himself to admit that Obama might be right about something. As I said a couple years ago, Obama should make more statements in favor of motherhood and apple pie, just for the amusement of getting Republicans to speak against those things.

  • Phillip IV

    There was no way they were going to get the bridge financing for that given the condition of the credit markets at the time.

    Yeah, in reality perhaps – but in Republicanland, the very fact that those loans ended up repaid with interest is proof positive that the market would have supplied the financing, because the market is omniscient and infallible. So don’t expect any of Romney’s competitors to call him out on that.

  • Larry

    Careful, there, Mittens. You’re gonna hurt your back twisting it into pretzels as you are.

  • naturalcynic

    …except kill bin Laden.*

    * but that was only because torture works.

  • Michael Heath

    Let’s be clear here. The sin wasn’t just Romney’s argument merely being wrong on the merits when we consider his argument in hindsight, but also that his 2008 opinion piece was obviously disingenuously crafted to provide plausible deniability in case the auto-bailout was successful. His hit piece sought to have it both ways, nearly all of it railed against government intervention and then the end quickly, almost silently, argued for some government intervention. Romney was hoping people would listen to the screams while he saved the end-argument as a defense in case the screams turned out to be bad judgment.

    This was obvious the first time I read the piece and I’m sure that’s true for everyone else who read the piece whose not hooked on tribal kool-aid. Yes his ending argument was still a loser this is because there wasn’t time for the work-out he proposed when Obama took charge, which the entire auto supply chain clearly communicated at the time, including Toyota and Ford and their respective supply chain partners. But knowing this, or that the original bond holders had previously bailed and those bonds were held by sharks hoping for government capitulation digs in a layer conservative politicians can count-on being far too deep for the average voter to know. [The bond argument is the argument that Obama was corrupt in favoring the employees over the bond-holders when it came the post-restructure equity splits.]

  • D. C. Sessions

    One of the more telling comments on our toxic political scene is that politicians can’t afford to say, “My opponent did something right.” You could see that in the way McCain looked like he was having a root canal without anaesthesia during the 2008 campaign that Obama wasn’t the Antichrist.

    When I was a kid, one of the lessons we were supposed to learn from competitive sports was to leave the rivalry on the field and go out for ice cream together afterward. Apparently that’s not part of the curriculum any more.