Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) narrowly won the Michigan primary last night despite his rampant opposition to the auto industry rescue that saved the state’s largest industry, likely because his main competition for the primary victory also wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt. But in the two weeks before the primary, Romney’s position was criticized by Michigan Republicans, auto industry insiders, and reporters who covered the rescue, many of whom said Romney’s plan would have killed the American automotive industry.
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), a former candidate for president who endorsed Romney after leaving the race, piled onto that criticism last night during MSNBC’s election coverage, telling the network’s panel that not rescuing the auto industry would have hastened the “deindustrialization of America.” McCotter also criticized Republicans who, like Romney, supported the Wall Street bailout while opposing the auto rescue:
MCCOTTER: But it’s not simply the auto industry. It’s about blue collar jobs, white collar jobs, non-unionized jobs, unionized jobs, and the deindustrialization of America that would have even hastened had those companies been allowed to seize up, go into bankruptcy and put hard-working men and women…high and dry. [...]
Now when you also look at what happened with the bridge loan, as we talked about at the time, President Bush authorized that money to come out of the already-appropriated funds that were targeted to the Wall Street people that caused the problems in the first place. So to my fellow Republicans I’ll simply remind them, if you were in Congress at the point in time or if you were President Bush, you could leave all $700 billion of taxpayers hard-earned money with the Wall Street people, or you could take some back to Main Street to keep America a balanced, vibrant economy. To me there was no choice.
Romney’s position on Wall Street bailout has varied, but most recently, he offered support for it in a way that resembled the support many of his fellow Republicans had for the auto rescue. “The TARP program, while not transparent and not having been used as wisely it should have been, was nevertheless necessary to keep banks from collapsing in a cascade of failures,” Romney told Reuters. “You cannot have a free economy and free market if there is not a financial system.”
Unfortunately, Romney never felt the same way about the failure of the auto industry, which, according to one estimate, would have lost 1.3 million jobs without the rescue.