There he goes again: Earlier today on Fox, Mitt Romney claimed that when President Obama saved the auto industry, he was merely following Romney's advice even though he strongly disagreed with Obama's plan at the time. Nonetheless, now he says everything went "exactly as I proposed."
Well, there's a nice chance in debates to talk about truth and fiction. I don't think many people understand that the president took the car companies into bankruptcy. They went into bankruptcy, exactly as I proposed. So the difference between us is that I would have done it earlier than the president did, and saved the American taxpayers about $20 billion.Given that Mitt Romney famously said his plan was to simply "Let Detroit go bankrupt," this claim—as President Clinton would say—takes a lot of brass. A lot.
What Romney is doing is focusing on the fact that under both his plan and under President Obama's plan, GM and Chrysler went through a managed bankruptcy. But there's nothing special about that: Everybody knew GM and Chrysler needed to go through a managed bankruptcy. The question was whether the companies would go through that process with or without the backing of the federal government.
Romney wanted to let the companies go through bankruptcy on their own, but if that had happened, the entire industry would have been devastated. We were in the middle of a financial crisis, and there simply wasn't any private financing to be had. In order to protect the companies from simply collapsing, the question was whether the government would step in, as it had with Wall Street, to keep a bad situation from getting worse.
President Obama made a tough call—and took a huge political risk—when he put the weight of the U.S. government behind the auto industry, but his decision has paid off. Mitt Romney would have done the exact opposite, and the results would have been disastrous. In fact, Romney said that if the U.S. took the path followed by President Obama, "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye."
Well, President Obama didn't follow his advice, and now the auto industry is now once again number one in the world (update: although GM was number one in the world for 2011, the last full year of data, Toyota regained the lead for the first half of 2012). And as President Clinton would say, it takes some serious brass for Mitt Romney to try to claim credit for that.