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Nov 01 2012

Republicans Against Romney on Bailout

As the Romney campaign scrambles, especially in Ohio, to explain Mitt’s ever-changing positions on the auto bailout, ThinkProgress compiles a list of Republican legislators and leaders who have spoken out in favor of Obama’s policy of government loans to facilitate a managed bankruptcy. My favorites:

Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter: “There was no choice” but to use government funds to save the auto industry, McCotter told MSNBC in February. “So to my fellow Republicans I’ll simply remind them, if you were in Congress at the point in time or if you were President Bush, you could leave all $700 billion of taxpayers hard-earned money with the Wall Street people, or you could take some back to Main Street to keep America a balanced, vibrant economy,” McCotter said. “To me there was no choice.” …

Auto Industry Task Force member Harry Wilson: Wilson, a member of Obama’s Auto Industry Task Force who has run for office as a Republican in New York, criticized Romney’s view of the bailout last week. “I’m, as you know, a Republican who supports the governor. But I think on this issue, I thinkhe’s really mishandled it,” Wilson told Bloomberg. “He came out both in 2008 and earlier in 2012, in a piece in one of the Detroit newspapers, and said he wouldn’t have supported any government capital because private capital was available. That’s simply not true.”

And the conservative Detroit News hammered Romney over his absurd claims on this even while endorsing him:

The Detroit News editorial board: A self-described “conservative newspaper,” the Detroit News endorsed Romney for president last week. But in its endorsement editorial, the paper blasted Romney for his “wrong-headedness on the auto bailout.” Romney “was wrong in suggesting the automakers could have found operating capital in the private markets,” the editors wrote. “Romney suggested government-backed loans to keep the companies afloat post bankruptcy. But what GM and Chrysler needed were bridge loans to get them through the process, and the private credit markets were unwilling to provide them.”

He was absolutely wrong about this in 2008. But he can’t admit that, so he has to pretend that he was right about it. Ohio residents, in particular, don’t seem to be buying that.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    When was the last time Romney told the truth and/or didn’t flip flop on an issue?

  2. 2
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    An unintended downside of taking every position on every issue is that it guarantees some of the positions you take are wrong… on every issue. Sooner or later it becomes a political liability to get too close to someone who is on record being wrong about everything.

  3. 3
    Michael Heath

    The NYTs column [1] Mitt Romney wrote at the time that President-elect Obama had to decide how to bail-out the auto industry clearly revealed that Mr. Romney was trying to have it both ways. A perfect exemplar of someone incapable of leadership. His column was obvious, he’d be agianst the bail-out if it eventually failed and for it if he succeeded. However that prediction wasn’t exactly right.

    After the primary’s this year, but only in forums not dominated by non-partisans, he was brazen enough to argue recently that Obama took his advice and did it the way he suggested. That of course was wildly untrue given the president used public money, not private funds as Romney argued. The president, and President Bush, also had to move fast whereas Mr. Romney’s plan would have guaranteed the collapse of the entire North American auto industry given there was no funds and insufficient time to take his prescriptions. Private equity which was not available at the time, including from Bain Capital who passed on the opportunity.

    However this easy prediction only partly explains the failure in character we observe from Mr. Romney. He’s been arguing both sides simultaneously, that’s he was both against it and for it, depending on the venue. This is because conservative populists, who are so blindly delusional now, still argue bailing out the auto industry was the wrong thing to do, including those in Michigan. This is denialism almost without precedent, and yet Mr. Romney panders to it by talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    1] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/opinion/19romney.html

  4. 4
    trucreep

    Eugh kind of a side comment…but Thad McCotter really just went off the deep end there :| It’s just very bizarre having your congressman implode like that. Not to mention the ah, actual fraud we went through each election with him on the ballot :|

  5. 5
    Joshua

    Too bad it’s not possible to create a generator that could harness the energy of Romney’s flip-flopping. Talk about a limitless supply of clean energy.

  6. 6
    shouldbeworking

    Clean energy? What about all that CO2 he would pump out with all that flip flopping?

  7. 7
    jameshanley

    Not to mention all the methane from his bullshit.

  8. 8
    Michael Heath

    trucreep writes:

    Eugh kind of a side comment…but Thad McCotter really just went off the deep end there :| It’s just very bizarre having your congressman implode like that. Not to mention the ah, actual fraud we went through each election with him on the ballot :|

    The Republican seeking to fill Rep. McCotter’s office might be even more insane: http://goo.gl/JuPsS

  9. 9
    gerryl

    I think I heard Romney say during one of the debates that his idea was to use private equity to bolster the auto industry — and that those private loans should have had government guarantees. Did anyone else hear him say that? It sounds like the typical Republican solution, let the private investors make the profit while the taxpayers can assume the risk.

  10. 10
    Ben P

    His column was obvious, he’d be agianst the bail-out if it eventually failed and for it if he succeeded. However that prediction wasn’t exactly right.

    I don’t think this is right at all. I also think that Romney, has the better half of the “Romney wanted the auto-industry to fail – no that’s not what I said” argument.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/opinion/19romney.html

    That’s the editorial. Read it.

    Now here’s the all important context. Several days before this editorial was written, big three executives appeared before congress and said, more or less, “we need money.”

    Romney’s response was to, with one important exception, propose almost exactly what Obama ended up doing. That is a managed bankruptcy for the automakers with a form of government support.

    There is one major difference.

    What Obama ended up doing was having the US government step in directly and provide the financing to restructure the automakers.

    Romney proposed merely that the government issue guarantees to the financing to restructure GMC.

    I think this is a bad choice, but it achieves basically the same result. It’s easy to say “well, there wasn’t any investment capital available,” but that’s not true, because government guarantees make the investment fundamentally risk free. Money was rushing into low risk investments at the time, and I think it’s impossible to say that money couldn’t have been found for a risk free investment in auto companies.

    Now, why it’s a bad choice. It basically privatizes the gains and socializes the risks. If the automakers recover, it’s the private investors reap all the rewards, but if the bailout fails, now the government is still on the hook for those private investor’s failed investment in GM.

    Incidentally, if the government merely guaranteed financing, it would have been private equity companies (oh, like Bain for example) that would step in to make a risk free investment. Further, a big bank like GS would make a killing arranging all of those investments.

    The flip sided benefit is that merely providing “guarantees* insulates the government from the claim that it’s somehow playing politics with the investments it’s made like Republicans have tried to allege.

  11. 11
    Ben P

    One edit:

    That’s not to say ROmney hasn’t still flip flopped on the issue.

    During the primaries he played up the fact that he opposed Obama’s version of the bailout without saying he had proposed something very similar. Then during the general he has tried to come back and say “well, no I never said Detroit should fail.”

  12. 12
    Jordan Genso

    Michael Heath:

    The Republican seeking to fill Rep. McCotter’s office might be even more insane: http://goo.gl/JuPsS

    What’s nice is that I had the opportunity to vote against Bentivolio twice on my absentee ballot. What’s not so nice is that he may unfortunately win both elections.

  13. 13
    Michael Heath

    Ben P @ 10,

    I’m perfectly aware of your argument and have repeatedly linked to the Romney NYT’s column over the years, including in this thread @ 3 prior to your posting the same @ 10.

    You are failing to consider the rhetoric surrounding the column coming not just from Republicans in Congress and the lame-duck Bush White House, but also from Mr. Romney himself. There’s a distinct reason Romney made a free-market argument through nearly the entire column and then flopped for what you naively fall for here. Because the end argument in that column was never a serious proposal Republicans were preparing to do or support, the end argument in that column was merely to provide Romney future cover.

    And that’s exactly how it’s turned out with one exception which I previously noted. I don’t think conservative leaders anticipated that if the auto bail-out turned out to be an enormous success, that conservative populists, even many in the rust belt states, would still delusionally argue the bail-out was wrong. This becomes illustrative of how conservatives continue to increasingly descend into delusion and idiocy, with their leaders not merely following them down the rabbit hole to continue to pander to them at whatever level they must, but those leaders increasingly becoming their own worst type of populist.

  14. 14
    Ben P

    . Because the end argument in that column was never a serious proposal Republicans were preparing to do or support, the end argument in that column was merely to provide Romney future cover.

    Given that at the time Bush was following through with TARP, I simply don’t buy that argument.

    If you read the substance of Romney’s column, his position is still fundamentally a pretty conservative one. Don’t give the auto makers a handout, make them declare bankruptcy so they can get rid of burdensome union contracts, then we can help them out by

    It may well be the case that house republicans would have never supported any Obama sponsored bailout, but Romney wasn’t in the house, and Romney and Boehner aren’t exactly buddies to begin with. But this was about a week after the 2008 election and awfully early to claim this is nothing more than positioning on the issue for an election four years down the road. I see the article as a straight up policy prescription piece. It’s Romney arguing for what he thinks is the best option, and oh by the way, it’s one that would probably make him and his friends a good bit of money.

    The flip flopping comes later when Romney tries to tell republicans that “yeah, I opposed Obama’s bailout, of course I wouldn’t support that socialist kind of thing” and then tell national audiences that “no, I don’t think we should have let them fail, my dad made cars, I love the auto industry.”

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