Ahead of Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate in Michigan, Democrats are renewing attacks on frontrunner Mitt Romney over his opposition to the multi-billion government bailouts of GM and Chrysler, automobile giants that are headquartered in the state.
In a new web video “Hit the Road, Mitt” the Democratic National Committee highlights a November 2008 op-ed Romney penned for the New York Times titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” and features an audio clip of Romney saying those same words.
“This city. Where American rubber meets the road. A town that’s been to hell and back. So what was his answer for the Motor City?” the narrator asks.
“Let Detroit go bankrupt,” interjects Romney’s voice.
The automakers, which did ultimately receive an infusion of government cash backed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, have since experienced a resurgence of viability and profitability. The issue has become an accomplishment frequently cited by Obama and his re-election campaign.
“Voters in Michigan will have a clear choice between Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican field which wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt, and President Obama, who not only extended a loan and restructuring package that saved 1.4 million jobs up and down the auto supply chain,” DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse said in a statement.
During a June visit to Michigan, Romney defended his opposition to the federal bailout, telling residents in and around Detroit that it placed a costly burden on taxpayers.
“Some people believe in bailouts. I believe in the process of the law,” Romney said at the time, according to the Associated Press. He indicated support for a “managed bankruptcy” whereby the companies would have been restructured without taxpayer financing. ”The idea of just writing a check, which is what the auto executives were asking for, was not the right course… It would have been best had the auto companies gone through the bankruptcy process without having taken $17 billion from government.”
GM and Chrysler have repaid much of the funds they received and preserved thousands of American jobs, but independent analysts say the bailout has cost taxpayers at least $14 billion because the stock the government received in exchange for the loans – and later sold — did not equal the value of the loans.
“President Obama has let Michigan go bankrupt. People have lost their jobs and their homes, and for those who still have work, their incomes have declined,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams wrote in an email. “An 11 percent unemployment rate in Michigan is why the White House wants to change the subject to anything other than President Obama’s abysmal record.”