For months, Mitt Romney has been dogged by a 2008 New York Times op/ed he wrote entitled âLet Detroit Go Bankrupt.â But now, the same adviser who claimed Romneyâs extreme views wouldnât matter in the general election because it will be âalmost like an Etch a Sketchâ is doing some serious Etch a Sketch-shaking of his own.
Romney strongly opposed the âbailoutâ of General Motors, writing: âIf General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It wonât go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.â He doubled down on that in February, saying that his âmanaged bankruptcyâ proposals would have been vastly superior to the Obama administrationâs âcrony capitalism plan.â Now that the federal intervention by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations has proven a huge success, the Romney campaign is trying desperately to change its tune.
On Saturday, Romneyâs senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said:
[Romney's] position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed. I know it infuriates them to hear thatâŚ The only economic success that President Obama has had is because he followed Mitt Romneyâs advice. âŚ The fact that the auto companies today are profitable is because theyâve shed costs. The reason they shed those costs and have got their employee labor contracts less expensive is because they went through that managed bankruptcy process. It is exactly what Mitt Romney told them to do.
Fehrnstrom has made the same claim before. âMitt Romney had the idea first,â he said last May. âMitt Romney argued that instead of a bailout, we should let the car companies go through a restructuring under the bankruptcy laws.â This, of course, flatly contradicts Romneyâs February editorial, in which he wrote of Obamaâs efforts: âI believe that without his intervention things there would be better.â
As industry experts have noted, however, exactly following Romneyâs plan would have led to the collapse of the auto industry, since the private sector wasnât willing to lend GM and Chrysler the money they needed to get to managed bankruptcy. âThere was no one that was willing to come up not only with the cash to keep them afloat but also to serve the warranties of everyone, you and I that drive all these cars,â Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), a Romney endorser, said in February. There was no one that could have picked up those pieces other than the federal government.â