In Wednesday's CNN Debate, Romney Modifies His Position On GM, Chrysler Rescue Yet Again: Are you getting tired of parsing Mitt Romney’s statements about the auto industry rescue? I am. But Romney makes it impossible to stop, because his position keeps shifting…. Conservative dogma demands that Romney reject this kind of government intervention. Republican dogma demands that Romney oppose anything Obama did. But the government intervention seems to have worked and Obama seems to have made the right call. What’s more, next Tuesday’s primary is in Michigan, home of the auto industry, although plenty of Republican voters there don’t like the bailout on principle.
On Wednesday night, Romney tried to finesse this problem with the following statement, according to CNN's rush transcript:
These companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, just like airlines have, just like other industries have. Go through a managed bankruptcy… and -- and if they go through that managed bankruptcy and shed the excessive cost that's been put on them by the UAW and by their own mismanagement, then if they need help coming out of bankruptcy, the government can provided guarantees and get them back on their feet. No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear. That was my view. Go through bankruptcy. When that happens, then the market can help lift them out….
I suspect Romney is implying one of two things.
The first possibility is that Romney believes the government should have been prepared to… guarantee “exit funding”…. [S]uch an approach would not have saved Chrysler and GM, which needed loans while they were in bankruptcy. The second possibility is that Romney thinks government should have assisted the companies, but only as part of a bankruptcy deal…. The problem for Romney is that… is exactly what Obama ended up doing….
The single most important question of in late 2008 and early 2009 was whether the federal government would put taxpayer dollars on the line, in order to save an economically vital industry.
Obama answered yes, even it meant inviting a political backlash. Romney can’t bring himself to support that decision, and I think that's because it would mean inviting a political backlash.
If so, that says a lot about the judgment of the two men. And their character.