As Mitt Romney struggles to gain ground with voters in Ohio, he has attempted to redefine his position on the federal auto rescue that saved as many as 1.3 million jobs. Romney released a highly misleading ad in Ohio this week that criticizes President Obama’s handling of the bailout and touts his own apparently unreleased plan to help the auto industry.
Romney’s actual plan was to oppose federal financing of the auto companies’ bankruptcy; instead, he wanted the private sector to finance the rescue while the government guaranteed post-bankruptcy loans. But private sector financing was “pure fantasy” at the time, according to industry insiders, because credit markets were “bone-dry” in the middle of the financial crisis.
Reporters and auto insiders aren’t alone in their criticism of Romney’s stance on the auto rescue, though. Here are six Romney supporters who have also contradicted his view of the auto bailout or criticized his plan:
1. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton: In February, Upton told Western Michigan University’s WMUK radio that only the government could have saved the auto industry. “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,” Upton said. “There was no one that could have picked up those pieces other than the federal government.” He also contradicted Romney’s claim that the rescue was a bailout of auto unions, saying it was “bi-partisan from the get-go.” Without the bailout, Upton said, Michigan “would have hit 40 percent unemployment rates.”
2. Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter: “There was no choice” but to use government funds to save the auto industry, McCotter told MSNBC in February. “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,” McCotter said. “To me there was no choice.”
3. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder: In November 2011, Snyder urged Republicans to stop second-guessing the auto rescue, even if they disagreed with how it was done, because it had delivered incredible results for Michigan and the auto industry. “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.”
4. Auto Industry Task Force member Harry Wilson: Wilson, a member of Obama’s Auto Industry Task Force who has run for office as a Republican in New York, criticized Romney’s view of the bailout last week. “I’m, as you know, a Republican who supports the governor. But I think on this issue, I think he’s really mishandled it,” Wilson told Bloomberg. “He came out both in 2008 and earlier in 2012, in a piece in one of the Detroit newspapers, and said he wouldn’t have supported any government capital because private capital was available. That’s simply not true.”
5. The Detroit News editorial board: A self-described “conservative newspaper,” the Detroit News endorsed Romney for president last week. But in its endorsement editorial, the paper blasted Romney for his “wrong-headedness on the auto bailout.” Romney “was wrong in suggesting the automakers could have found operating capital in the private markets,” the editors wrote. “Romney suggested government-backed loans to keep the companies afloat post bankruptcy. But what GM and Chrysler needed were bridge loans to get them through the process, and the private credit markets were unwilling to provide them.”
6. Ex-Chrysler CEO Lee Iaccoca: Iaccoca has endorsed Romney, but he also has praised the auto bailout for its rescue of the industry. “Two years ago, it looked like Detroit and Michigan and the car business was in the toilet,” Iacocca told the Detroit News this month. But after the bailout, he said, “things have turned out pretty well.” And even if Iaccoca has criticisms of pieces of the bailout, the paper said he “praised the government actions over the past two years that gave two of Detroit’s Big Three automakers another chance.”