Sales have driven a steady stream of hiring new employees or turning temporary workers into permanent ones..
That news has a green tinge, too:
G.M. said it sold a record 100,000 vehicles with a fuel-economy rating of at least 30 miles per gallon in highway driving.Cue Mitt Romney. In November 2008, the putative GOP presidential nominee had a solution for the industry without a government bailout, as he wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed, Let Detroit Go Bankrupt:
“The economic recovery and a deep bench of fuel-efficient cars and crossovers have been driving our sales for more than a year, but the combined impact has never been stronger than it was in March,” Don Johnson, G.M.’s vice president of United States sales operations, said in a statement. “Since the last time fuel prices spiked, both the economy and G.M.’s product portfolio are undeniably stronger.
If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.First under President Bush and then President Obama, the Troubled Asset Relief Program loaned GM $49.5 billion. Money down the rat hole, Romney said.
Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course—the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.
Faced with the success of the bail-out combined with a structured bankruptcy, Romney subsequently claimed that President Obama had taken his idea but larded it with "crony capitalism," quite the turn-of-phrase coming from him. The bailout, he said, had been a gift to union bosses and completely unnecessary.
But since GM and the car companies were clearly on the mend, Romney said the government should now sell the shares of stock it acquired as part of the bailout deal so the taxpayers could get their money back:
"American taxpayers have been left on the hook for billions to benefit unions and the union bosses who contributed millions to Barack Obama's election campaign. Such a state of affairs is intolerable, and as president I would not tolerate it. The Obama administration needs to act now to divest itself of its ownership position in GM."Proof, the Romney team will no doubt proclaim, of how important it is to have somebody who really understands business at the helm of USA, Inc. Just one problem: It's a stupid idea from a business standpoint just like his original idea for letting GM and Chrysler go bankrupt without a bailout was stupid idea.
Divesting would cost the taxpayers money.
Why? The government loans have been covered by a mix of cash and shares from GM. The Feds have sold some of our shares, but Washington still has a 32 percent stake in General Motors, 500 million shares. Of the $49.5 billion it received from TARP, the company has repaid about $23.1 billion. Leaving the balance it owes the Treasury at around $26.4 billion. If the government sold its holdings today, with GM going for $25.68 with half the trading day over, the taxpayers would get $12.8 billion.
Romney may not be able to, but you can do the math.
What it comes down to is that Romney would have been happy to let the ailing U.S. auto industry go out of business, costing a million jobs or more. And now that the industry is back on its feet, he would be happy to screw the taxpayers out of billions.