Three years ago, GOP presumptive candidate and Detroit-native Mitt Romney said America should let its top automakers go under. Then, last month, he tried to take credit for the auto industry bailout. He is now saying he would sell out the nation’s remaining stake in GM at a loss.
In 2009, President Obama’s campaign spokesman Matt McGrath said Romney’s remarks were “a betrayal no Michigander is likely soon to forget.” In light of those comments, perhaps Detroit was not the wisest place to make his recent comments. But then, if Mitt started being consistent, owning his words and making intelligent remarks, he wouldn’t be Mitt.
In May, Romney tried to take credit for the successful bailouts:
“I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy. And finally, when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet. So I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back.”
Bail on bailout?
Friday, Mitt told the Detroit News that the government had “no reason” to hold onto its stake in General Motors, and that it is only doing so to save face in this campaign time:
“The president is delaying the sale of the shares to try and avoid the story that the taxpayer took another loss. I would get the company independent from government and run for the interests of the consumer and the enterprise and its workers — not for the political considerations of government officials.”
But hold on now. Isn’t Romney the candidate who is running on his record as a successful business man? The guy who says the current Chief Executive doesn’t understand smart finances?
Yes, the U.S. government does still own a 26 percent stake in GM, the nation’s largest automaker. But at Monday’s closing price of $21.11 a share, the U.S. would take a loss of $16 billion, or about a third of its $49.5 billion bailout.
So this is the wise business move suggested by the man who says the current administration is too fat and needs to cut vital social programs to make ends meet?
In May, assistant Treasury secretary Tim Massad said of the government’s remaining GM shares:
“We have to balance maximizing recovery for the taxpayers with the speed of exit.”
I’m no slash-and-burn vulture capitalist, so maybe I don’t know, but that sounds like a sensible business move to me.
‘Distorting’ his record
Mitt continued Friday, saying Democrats were “distorting” his position on the Detroit bankruptcy bailout.
“If they needed help coming out of bankruptcy and government support, that was fine, but I was not in favor of the government writing billions of dollars in checks prior to them going into bankruptcy.”
Romney and other Republicans maintain that the bankruptcies should have been financed by private investors. But the fact is, no private entity had deep enough pockets or was willing to dig deep enough to make that happen. Remember, a certain Baines Capital turned the automakers down.
Governor strikes back
Romney spoke for the Michigan people Friday, saying they recognized “the president’s policies and Gov. Granholm’s policies did not work to get people back to work and they want to see a different course taken.”
Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm quickly answered those remarks:
“Gov. Romney obviously hasn’t read a Michigan newspaper lately. President Obama’s intervention saved the auto industry and has made Michigan the comeback story of the country. No one will forget that Mitt Romney urged letting Detroit go bankrupt. No one will forget that Romney stabbed his home state in the back in our hour of need.”
Mitt Romney’s concern is for corporations and the top percentage of the nation’s earners. If he truly was interested in the working man, beyond getting his vote, his rhetoric would be more consistent. When he spoke, he would sound like he had something to say rather than exercising damage control.
A vote for Romney in the fall is a vote to further nudge the middle class toward the poverty line.