Last November, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) told Republican presidential candidates to stop second-guessing the rescue of the automobile industry that saved thousands of jobs in his state. “I would have had some differences on how they did it, but I’m not going to second-guess it,” Snyder told the New York Times. “The more important thing is the results. And the auto industry is doing very well today.”
Today, Snyder endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), a candidate who opposed the auto bailout at the time, second-guessed it as it was happening, attempted to take credit for it when it was working, and finally second-guessed it again this week. But in his Detroit News editorial endorsing Romney, Snyder never mentioned the auto rescue or his and Romney’s conflicting stances on it, even though Romney had published an editorial on the topic in the same paper just three days ago. Instead, Snyder suggested voters focus on Romney’s business acumen and his ties to the state:
A little more than a year ago, Michigan voters put their trust in a businessman to serve as their governor. They were looking for someone who understands the private sector and has a plan for reversing the economic decline that had befallen our great state. [...]
He has deep ties to our state. Mitt understands the challenges confronting Michigan as few Americans do.
With the Michigan primary approaching, Romney has played up his ties to the state and its auto industry. But his editorials about the auto rescue — the first, from 2009, was titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt“; the second published Tuesday — raise questions about whether he understood the circumstances surrounding the rescue or how many jobs the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler would have cost the American economy.
Romney called for the two automakers to go into managed bankruptcy handled by the private sector. As Yahoo! Autos reporter Justin Hyde points out, though, the private sector wasn’t willing to make the loans necessary to keep the companies in business through a managed bankruptcy. Had they followed the Romney path, the companies likely would have liquidated, healthier automakers like Ford and Toyota (and their suppliers) would have been threatened, and an estimated 1.3 million Americans would have been out of work.