Sunday, February 26, 2012

Romney: Wrong for Detroit, Wrong for America

It's time to admit what has been painfully clear to many Americans for a long time:  Willard 'Mitt' Romney is a terrible candidate to be President of the United States.  No, it isn't because he's not qualified.  I believe he has as much, if not more qualification to be president than any of the other GOP hopefuls and perhaps even our current president, though if three years of on the job experience doesn't qualify someone I don't know what does.  And it's not because Willard is unlikable, either.  I think he's probably a swell guy to hang out with at the country club, sipping vermouth and chatting about everything he's done to save businesses, the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, and Massachusetts.  No, those things are all good accomplishments and he should be applauded for whatever role he played in them.

The problem for Willard Romney is that he is a stranger to the truth.  He has apparently never made its acquaintance.  Even after it has been demonstrated time and time again that if Presidents Bush and Obama had followed Gov. Romney's advice the only automobiles manufactured in the U.S. today would be Japanese and German automobiles made in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Michigan would be a barren wasteland with plenty of trees at the right height but no automobile companies.  Beyond the job losses for the hated United Auto Workers would have been the suppliers to the industry, the truck drivers who deliver the vehicles, the restaurants that serve the workers, and so on and on.  It would have been the largest collapse in American history and Willard Romney advocated that the U.S. Government just stand by and watch it happen.

Over and over on the campaign trail he has talked about letting GM and Chrysler go through a 'managed bankruptcy' financed by private capital.  Nice in theory, but impossible in the economic conditions of 2008-09, as economist Steven Rattner discussed in the NY Times on Friday.  There simply was no private capital available.  The result would have been the liquidation of GM, Chrysler, and perhaps Ford (who didn't accept government loans but would have experienced supply disruptions that might have paralyzed the company).

It's one thing to be wrong about an issue at a time when foresight is limited.  If 2008 had been a normal recession perhaps Romney's approach would have been the right one to take.  But it wasn't and both President Bush and President Obama deserve credit for recognizing that fact when few others did.  It is entirely another thing to double down and insist that a prior position was correct when hindsight demonstrates it was clearly wrong.  A healthy and profitable U.S. auto industry (GM turned it's largest profit in history in 2011) shows that Romney was wrong then and continues to be wrong today.  President Bush recently affirmed that he made the right decision and he'd do it again.  Just one more reason Willard Romney is wrong for America.

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