I'm a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need—these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy. And in that process, they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they'd—they'd built up. [...]I'll give him this: Romney did say the government should provide guarantees. On that single point, Romney is being truthful. But guarantees weren't going to be enough, and Romney has no answers for the real questions.
ROMNEY: I said that we would provide guarantees, and—and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry, of course not. Of course not.
OBAMA: Let's check the record.
He argued fiercely against the government providing the bailout that kept the auto industry on its feet at a time when no private money was available to keep it going. Virtually everyone who was involved in attempting to save Chrysler and General Motors in late 2008 and 2009 agrees that without that government bailout—which Romney to this day says was a terrible mistake—Chrysler and GM would have gone under, dragging down with them auto parts manufacturers, dealers, and other businesses all up and down the supply chain. And they would have gone under quickly. Liquidation was less than a month away.
Romney may not have understood himself to be arguing for liquidation back in 2008. But it would have been the effect if his advice had carried the day. And to this day, regardless of how often and by whom the situation is explained to him, he cannot accept that he was wrong. His certainty that Mitt Romney, Businessman, is always right is too strong to allow for that possibility. And admitting he was wrong would drive home that if he had been president, the American auto industry would have gone under. Michigan and Ohio's economies would have been destroyed. A million jobs would have gone up in flames. The recovery we've experienced from the great recession, however inadequate it's been, would instead have been a descent into a depression. And that's not much of an advertisement for a Romney presidency this time around. So he lies. It's all he can do.
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