Mitt Romney vs Reality

I’ve been saying for a while that Mitt Romney’s biggest problem will be his compulsive lying. It’s stunning how he repeatedly changes his positions, and then denies ever taking the previous position.

With that track record, the Obama campaign seems to have come up with an appropriate slogan – “Mitt Romney vs Reality.” The first ad has to do with Romney’s hilarious statement in Cleveland that he deserved plenty of credit for the recovery of the auto industry . . . even though he opposed the bailout. The ad is excellent, though coming up with ads against Romney should be pretty easy.

  

The wildly successful auto industry bailout

Chrysler announced today that it is repaying $7.5 billion to the U.S. government years ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, GM has announced it will hire thousands of new workers in the U.S. after a successful IPO.

The bailout of the U.S. auto industry in 2009 by the Obama administration was very unpopular, but it will go down as one of the shrewdest decisions of President Obama. Letting GM and Chrysler go through a bankruptcy liquidation would have killed thousands of jobs and possibly turned the recession into a depression. Thousands of auto suppliers would have been insolvent immediately, thus creating even more job losses.

Most on the right, including presidential candidates Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, opposed bailing out the auto companies. Mitt Romney even penned an op-ed arguing that we should let Detroit go bankrupt. They look like fools now, and the Democrats just released a preview of how this issue will be highlighted in the 2012 campaign, particularly in the Midwest.

  

Money for idiots – we have no choice

David Brooks laments the harsh reality that the bank, auto and mortgage bailouts are rewarding too many people for stupid behavior. Yet, if we want to stop the downward spiral, we have no choice.

It makes sense for the government to intervene to try to reduce the oscillation. It makes sense for government to try to restore some communal order. And the sad reality is that in these circumstances government has to spend money on precisely those sectors that have been swinging most wildly — housing, finance, etc. It has to help stabilize people who have been idiots.

Actually executing this is a near-impossible task. Looking at the auto, housing and banking bailouts, we’re getting a sense of how the propeller heads around Obama operate. They try to put together programs that are bold, but without the huge interventions in the market implied by, say, nationalization. They’re balancing so many cross-pressures, they often come up with technocratic Rube Goldberg schemes that alter incentives in lots of medium and small ways. Some economists argue that the plans are too ineffectual, others that they are too opaque (estimates for the mortgage plan range from $75 billion to $275 billion and up). Personally, I hate the idea of 10 guys sitting around in the White House trying to redesign huge swaths of the U.S. economy on legal pads.

But at least they seem to be driven by a spirit of moderation and restraint. They seem to be trying to keep as many market structures in place as possible so things can return to normal relatively smoothly.

And they seem to understand the big thing. The nation’s economy is not just the sum of its individuals. It is an interwoven context that we all share. To stabilize that communal landscape, sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent. The greedy idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen. And at some level, we’re all in this together. If their lives don’t stabilize, then our lives don’t stabilize.

There will be those who gripe about this and try to whip up anger and opposition to the administration’s efforts, but they won’t offer practical alternatives. They might call for the banks, automakers and homeowners to go bankrupt, but they probably don’t mean it. If they do, it probably means they have no clue of how bad it can get if they get their wish.

  

Mitch Ablom blasts Republican Senators for risking US economy

Mitch Ablom lets them have it.

Do you want to watch us drown? Is that it? Do want to see the last gurgle of economic air spit from our lips? If so, senators, know this: You’ll go down with us. America isn’t America without an auto industry. You can argue whether $14 billion would have saved it, but you surely tried to kill it.

We have grease on our hands.

You have blood.

Kill the car, kill the country. History will show that when America was on its knees, a handful of lawmakers tried to cut off its feet. And blame the workers. How suddenly did the workers — a small percentage of a car’s cost — become justification for crushing an industry?

And when did Detroit become the symbol of economic dysfunction? Are you kidding? Have you looked in the mirror lately, Washington?

In a world where banks hemorrhaged trillions in a high-priced gamble called credit derivative swaps that YOU failed to regulate, how on earth do WE need to be punished? In a bailout era where you shoveled billions, with no demands, to banks and financial firms, why do WE need to be schooled on how to run a business?

Who is more dysfunctional in business than YOU? Who blows more money? Who wastes more trillions on favors, payback and pork?

At least in the auto industry, if folks don’t like what you make, they don’t have to buy it. In government, even your worst mistakes, we have to live with.

And now Detroit should die with this?

In bed with the foreign automakers
Kill the car, kill the country. Sen. Richard Shelby, Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Mitch McConnell, your names will not be forgotten. It’s amazing how you pretend to speak for America when you are only watching out for your political party, which would love to cripple unions, and your states, which house foreign auto plants.

Corker, you’ve got Nissan there and Volkswagen coming. Shelby, you’ve got Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and — like McConnell — Toyota. Oh, don’t kid yourself. They didn’t come because you earned their business, a subject on which you enjoy lecturing the Detroit Three. No, they came because you threw billions in state tax breaks to lure them.

This was pure politics. Ironlically, these GOP Senators think they are “rebranding” the party in a pathetic attempt to regain support after two disastrous elections. Yet people are starting to see through their bullshit.

There are times when leaders need to put aside politics and ideology to do what is necessary for the good of the country, even when it’s not popular, and even when a compromise solution is not perfect. These Republican Senators passed on their responsibility, even when all other parties, like Speaker Pelosi and George W. Bush, all compromised to get something done. They chose to demonize workers and unions. Of course the unions have made mistakes and we need further reform, but many others are at fault as well, particularly auto executives AND Republican congressmen who for years fought attempts to raise mileage standards to start weaning us off of foreign oil and gas-guzzling cars.

Blame the workers; blame the poor. With this economic crisis, we’re seeing a pattern here from many Republicans. Is it good politics? I don’t think so. I think they will pay for this for years.

  

Senate Republicans kill auto compromise

The Republicans hate the UAW, and they’re willing to risk our entire economy unless they see clear worker concessions.

Republicans bail out their banking friends, but they’ve turned their backs on millions of blue collar workers.

Now it’s up to the Bush administration. Does Bush want to see the collapse of the auto industry as the final act of the most pathetic presidency of our lifetimes?

  

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