Faced with an disintegrating American auto industry in 2009, President Obama opted to rescue General Motors and Chrysler from bankruptcy. His decision invited immediate derision from Republicans, but, after paying back millions of loans and adding thousands of additional jobs, GM and Chrysler are on track to sell millions more cars and hire thousands of workers in 2012. Indeed, GM rebounded to become the top-selling automaker of 2011.
That level of success, however, has done little to dislodge some Republicans’ delusion that the auto rescue was bad for business. Today on C-SPAN, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum completely dismissed the necessity of a rescue, stating that “the greater meltdown over the long term for this country is having the government inject itself into the private sector” at all. GM and Chrysler should’ve “gone through a structured bankruptcy,” he said. “You pretty much would’ve had the same company, maybe even a better company”:
SANTORUM: I called for a structured bankruptcy from the very beginning. Look, I opposed the Wall Street bailout, which of course was the funding source for the auto bailout. I was the only one up on that stage — between myself, Gingrich, and Romney — that did on principle oppose it, even though people were saying there could be a financial meltdown. The bottom line is, the greater meltdown over the long term for this country is having the government inject itself into the private sector in such a huge way. Allow the capitalist system to work, and that’s what I believe in. The same thing with GM and Chrysler, they could’ve gone through a structured bankruptcy and the only difference between those two companies coming out of bankruptcy and the bailout that Obama put in place was that the unions wouldn’t have a big ownership share of the company…You pretty much would’ve had the same company, maybe even a better company, because they would’ve been stripped of even more legacy costs that frankly makes it hard for them to be competitive.
Santorum’s obstinence in the face of such success is somewhat surprising especially given the fact that other Republican naysayers have been quick to about-face. Once calling on America to “let Detroit go bankrupt,” his competitor Mitt Romney now insists that the auto rescue was his idea first. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who originally dismissed the rescue, suddenly is “very pleased” that Obama went through with a decision that turned out to be vital to his state. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) praised the government intervention and explicitly “warned GOP presidential candidates against criticizing the bailout.”
The industry has now hired back just about everybody from the automotive side that had been laid off — a feat that would not have been possible without the auto rescue. If Santorum wants to continually denigrate that decision, he’ll continue to do so without an ounce of evidence to back him up.