Joe Biden is right about the auto bailout. There was a President who bucked a public outraged about the Wall Street bailout, and loud criticisms from within his own party, to make an unpopular decision that ended up saving tens of thousand of jobs and putting Detroit on the road to recovery. Biden, in his rousing campaign speech in Toledo, Ohio, on Thursday, was also right about Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich when he criticized them for refusing to support the auto bailout back in 2008 and 2009. In putting dogma and electoral calculus before the national interest, the Republican candidates acted like craven politicians rather than national leaders.
At the end of 2008, General Motors and Chrysler were bleeding billions of dollars a month, and nobody in the private sector wanted to lend to them. Even the supposedly liberal Brookings Institution put out a report saying they should be allowed to go bust, with their factories and machinery being sold off to the highest bidder. Today, things look very different. A few weeks ago, General Motors reported that it made $7.6 billion in profit last year. Even Chrysler, which is now controlled by Fiat, made money in 2011. So Biden was telling the truth when he said, in reference to the Republican candidates, that the President “made the tough call… [he] was right, and they were dead wrong.”
The only problem with Biden’s history lesson is that the “man with steel in his spine” he referred to should have been George W. Bush, not Barack Obama. Lest we forget, it was Bush rather than Obama who initiated the government rescue of the auto companies.
Bush, however, didn’t overturn hundreds of years of contract law by executive fiat to award what was rightfully the shareholders’ to the UAW. We opposed the bailouts, but Obama’s talking points are . . . ahistorical.
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