Austerity, Technocracy, Autocracy...
Daniel Larison Worries About Libya

Romney’s Incoherence on the Auto Bailout Explained

Benjy Sarlin:

Mitt Romney is again slamming the White House for its handling of the auto bailout…. If you’re confused, you should be…. Romney is in the tough position of trying to sell the same position to two very different audiences…. Back in late 2008… Romney wrote an op-ed for the New York Times instead calling for bankruptcy…. But here’s the thing: there was no way the auto companies could get the necessary loans to keep them afloat during bankruptcy from the private sector. That’s because the financial industry was barely hanging on to life itself. So Romney recommended at the very bottom that the federal government step in with the money, offering “guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and [assuring] car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.”…

Then a funny thing happened. The new Obama administration came in and, rather than continuing to write a “bailout check,” did just what Romney had recommended….

So what did Romney make of it? Well he was kind of all over the map…. Romney actually praised the president’s “backbone” at a Republican fundraiser in April 2009 and said his party shouldn’t hesitate to credit him when he’s right…. [W]hen the actual announcement of GM’s bankruptcy came, he said in a speech that it was the “a course I recommended a number of months ago”….

But the Tea Party saw little distinction between financing a bankruptcy proceeding with taxpayer dollars… and a socialist corruption of private industry…. So Romney’s now in a tough spot. On the one hand, Obama pretty much followed the basics of his own 2008 proposal. On the other hand, the Tea Party… think[s] this route was… the ultimate bailout….

[Romney's oped is] a rewrite of history… suggests Obama took over the auto companies in order to hand them to his union buddies. In fact, the UAW’s stake in the companies was a concession. GM and Chrysler owed huge amounts of cash to the auto-worker’s health care retirement fund… the UAW agreed to instead allow the industry to pay into the fund with equity — a risky move…