Reporting Charlie Langton
DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) Many were upset when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney claimed on the eve of a visit to Lansing he deserved “a lot of credit” for the resurgence of the auto industry.
But no one was angrier than Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.
“Whatever, he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth, ‘Oh what a shock,’” Bernero said, adding, “Without the loan … there would have been no managed, organized bankruptcy because they would have been dead as a door nail.”
Romney argued his desire for a “managed bankruptcy” set the stage for the massive federal bailout that took GM and Chrysler from the brink of disaster to record-breaking profits. At the time, Romney opposed the bailout that was pushed by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, famously writing an Op-Ed in the New York Times titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
Bernero said Romney’s position was extreme and that without massive federal intervention “the companies would be dead, there would be nothing to revive, there would be nothing to manage.”
He compared Romney to an armchair quarterback “basically sitting in his easy chair taking credit for the touchdown.”
“He’s running from his past,” Bernero said. “In this case, he’s running from it because he knows if people know they truth, he’s sunk in Michigan, he’s sunk in Ohio, he’s sunk in any state, as he should be, that relies on the auto industry.”
Bernero sat out Romney’s speech in Lansing after the candidate said during a national news interview: “Frankly, that’s finally what the president did, he finally took them through bankruptcy … I argued for it from the beginning … I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy and finally when that was done and help was given, the companies got back on their feet,” Romney said, adding he deserved “a lot of the credit” for their re-emergence.
“Mitt Romney taking credit for the auto rescue is like Benedict Arnold taking credit for the American victory over the British — give me a break, give me a break,” Bernero said. “GM and Chrysler are going strong in spite of Romney’s best efforts.”
Romney’s idea of a government-aided bankruptcy without bailout money wouldn’t have worked because the companies fell apart at a time in the Great Recession when there was no money available from private lenders. The Wall Street meltdown left the companies nowhere else to turn but to the government, Bernero said.
Bob Lutz, a conservative who was vice chairman of GM during the meltdown, told the Detroit Free Press in February, “The banks were even more broke than we were. Who had the money?”
“He doesn’t get us obviously, in our darkest hour he switched sides, he was with the enemy,” Bernero said. “Wall Street got bailed out and then left Detroit for dead, and the question is WWRS — What Was Romney’s Response? It was ‘Let them eat cake, let them die.’”
Caller Doug from Dearborn, a Ford employee, defended the government intervention in the auto industry, saying, “Every other major governmental entity supports the auto industry … There’s no government on the face of the earth that supports it less than the United states government … It’s a strategic agency, it supports technology high-paying jobs.”
“Thank God that the U.S. government finally had a strategy to protect high-paying technology jobs and they should have done more for Ford, but I’m glad they did something for GM and Chrysler.”
Tom from Detroit said, “In terms of Romney wanting to take credit … Let’s get real here, in terms of what Romney was talking about there was not the kind of money in the economy to bail out General Motors and Chrysler … Had (Obama) not, there would have been up to 3 million people losing their jobs.
“The only credit Romney gets here is credit for disingenuousness.”