Terrance Heath

Mitt's Bailout Wreck in Michigan

Filed By Terrance Heath | February 16, 2012 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Michigan, Mitt Romney

In this morning’s Progressive Breakfast, I referred to Mitt Romney’s Michigan TV spot as “Romney’s Auto Bailout Spin-Out.” Well, as it happens, things are worse than I thought. Just to recap, Santorum is pounding Romney in Michigan. This is a little embarrassing, because Michigan is supposed to be Romney’s home turf. His dad, George Romney, was Michigan’s governor for six years. Plus, Mitt needs to win Michigan.

So, Mitt runs this ad, attacking the auto-industry bailout.

(Take that, Clint Eastwood. You pinko communist, you.)

Because, if you’re Mitt Romney, not only do you want to remind folks in Michigan that you told the biggest industry in their state to “Drop Dead,” and declared that the government should “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

It’s not that there’s not a political angle to the GOP refusal to bail out Detroit the same way Wall Street -- where executives’ financial dealings were at least as irresponsible and disastrous as any made in Detroit -- was bailed out. The political motivation is clear: if the “Big Three” fail, foreign automakers are likely to serve as a back-up, and they will likely build their factories in southern states where conservatives might finally offer their base something besides the “red meat” of culture war rhetoric and anti-gay marriage initiatives. Like jobs to finally replace the textile jobs that long ago departed for other shores on the wings of trade agreements that were supposed to be a boon to our economy; a drop in that rising tide alleged to lift all boats.

That they will be non-union, lower-paying jobs than those that will disappear further north, with fewer benefits may not matter to a population so ravaged by conservative economics that they are willing to complete the final loop of globalization, and become the low-wage labor employed by multi-national corporations. They are jobs after all, though not enough to replace the jobs that will be lost in the process of a collapse.

It’s not the political angle but the callous, cavalier attitude towards the consequences of collapse in those corner of “real America” that conservatives just spent an entire campaign extolling, that typifies something I’ve started calling “Drop Dead” conservatism, showing its true face as its many masks -- of compassion, values, etc. -- slip.

Now that the auto-industry is back, that the auto-industry bailout is paying dividends, now that even Michigan’s economy is improving, you want to remind Michigan workers whose jobs would have been lost without the bailout that you still think that’s what should have happened.

Remember the auto-bailout? Around beginning of June, and again in mid-August, we started seeing reports that it at last this bailout was starting to pay off. Particular attention was given to GM’s turnaround: the first quarterly profit reported in almost three years, rising prices for the company’s cars, filing to once again sell shares publicly, and already producing returns on the government’s investment. Where U.S. manufacturing has lost nearly 175,000 jobs in the last two years, the U.S. auto parts and production sectors grew by 41,000 jobs to 704,000 between July 2009 and July 2010.

No wonder president Obama, when he toured a GM factory in Detroit, touted the success of GM’s turnaround to vindicate government intervention to save U.S. automakers -- and the jobs of auto-workers, as well as those in the parts, supply, and service sectors that depend on the auto-industry. White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs summed up the administration’s argument: “”

It serves to remind Americans of what conservatives would rather we forget: that they were adamant that the government stand by and “do nothing” as U.S. automakers failed, with disastrous consequences for workers, families and communities that relied on the industry. Likewise, conservatives were willing to let the financial sector collapse, and let million of Americans suffer another Great Depression, “For the sake of the altar of the free market.” Many of the congressional conservatives who advocated letting the U.S. auto-industry die, came from southern states that offered generous incentives to foreign automakers to build factories, which came the expense of their constituents, and failed to yield the promised economic growth.

None could claim to be as successful, in fact, as our government’s investment in saving the U.S. auto-industry. No wonder conservatives who claimed at the time that president Obama effectively “owned” GM, with a government rescue in place for the company and other automakers, are now claiming that he can claim no credit for its turnaround.

And, just to drive your point home, naturally you’d do it in a car that was made in Canada.

The next big prize in the GOP primaries is Michigan, one of Mitt Romney's five home states (along with MA, NH, UT, and CA). He's released an ad showing him driving around in a fancy Chrysler while he talks about how much he loves Michigan, and all. Here's the ad:

And here's the problem: that Chrysler that he's driving is a 300 model, and the 300 is made in Canada.

How do we know? Here's a screenshot from the ad (click for larger) - the key is the dashboard layout in the lower right hand corner.

Compare that interior layout to that of two Chrysler models - the 200, which is made in the U.S., and the 300, which is made in Canada (click the images for larger views):

Chrysler 200 Chrysler 300

The biggest giveaway is the air vents, which are tall and skinny in the 300, but are sort of square-shaped in the 200. You can see that the 300 is an exact match for what Romney is driving; the 200 is not.

#FAIL

This is like slashing all four tires and pouring sugar in your own gas tank. Oh well, if nothing else, maybe people will be to busy laughing at you were once happy to take help from the government back when you were a businessman.


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