Mitt Romney yesterday ludicrously said that he deserves “a lot of credit” for the revival of the American auto industry, a proclamation that befuddled even his staunchest supporters. As Talking Points Memo’s Brian Beutler reported, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded to Romney’s remarks by asking, “Romney said that he was responsible for the auto bailout?” “I’d have to look at the context of his remarks,” McCain added.
However, McCain evidently got his story straight before appearing on CNN last night. When asked by CNN’s John King about Romney’s remarks, McCain said that Romney really meant to take credit for being against the way in which the government provided bankruptcy financing to the auto companies:
KING: Senator, forgive me, but to hear Mitt Romney taking credit for the resurgence of the auto industry, isn’t that in a bit of a parallel universe? He was against the bailout.
MCCAIN: Well, being against the bailout was being against what was a deal that they cut, basically, with the unions. Mitt Romney and I don’t understand why the auto industry — by the way, not Ford, who’s doing very well — why GM and Chrysler didn’t do the normal bankruptcy proceedings as thousands of small businesses all over America had to do as they faced these rough times. Instead, they got a special deal, they got taxpayers money, billions of which have not been paid back to the taxpayers, and they could have gone through the normal bankruptcy process. As I said, other companies and corporations did and remained viable and could be fine today. And taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook.
KING: The companies say they would have run out of cash, that there was no private cash available. They would have had to liquidate, meaning shut down, and then maybe go through bankruptcy. Imagine all the turmoil that would have caused.
MCCAIN: Well, I wonder why Ford didn’t have to do that, number one. Number two is, I don’t accept that.
Both McCain and Romney — when he’s not taking credit for the auto rescue — claim that a bankruptcy without government financing would have been possible. But the consensus opinion is that their view is simply detached from reality. “Romney’s take just doesn’t square with the facts as I lived them,” said Yahoo! Autos reporter Justin Hyde, while The Economist wrote that Romney’s position “conveniently ignores” history.
As Romney endorser Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “There was really a choice between bankruptcy and liquidation. There was no one that was willing to come up not only with the cash to keep them afloat but also to serve the warranties of everyone, you and I that drive all these cars. There was no one that could have picked up those pieces other than the federal government.” Romney — and now McCain — continues to willfully ignore this reality.