Dems tell anti-auto bailouts GOP presidential wannabees:
“Lucy, you got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do”
By Alan Abrams, La Prensa Senior Correspondent
It was a scenario worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster “disaster” movie – the genre that usually opens in theatres over the Memorial Day weekend.
This script featured two former Midwest Democratic governors and the head of the UAW taking to the phone lines to spin a horror tale of the catastrophic results on the US-American economy had not the domestic automobile industry -- and millions of jobs -- been bailed out by President Barack Obama in 2008.
And like all good “what if” stories, the disaster really came very close to happening – right in our backyards.
The May 24, 2011 conference call, which starred former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, his erstwhile Michigan counterpart Jennifer Granholm and UAW president Bob King, was sponsored by the Democratic National Committee. The occasion was the historic announcement by Chrysler that it was repaying its $5.9 billion loan to the US and $1.7 billion to governments of Canada and Ontario.
That news was nothing short of amazing considering Chrysler had received a $10.5 billion bailout in the form of a bridge loan in April 2009 prior to filing for bankruptcy and reorganization.
Surely you remember how all the GOP doomsayers wrung their hands over the government’s decision. But just in case you’ve forgotten, please—por favor—keep reading.
The ripple effect of the bailout upon the industrial centers of Northwest and Northeast Ohio and Michigan was equivalent to an 8.9 earthquake on the Richter Scale. Had President Obama not taken decisive action, thousands of our neighbors in Detroit, Toledo, Lorain, Perrysburg, and other parts of Ohio and Michigan would be unemployed today.
Simply put, the action by President Obama saved jobs, saved families, and saved our region, period.
And to underscore it, on May 25 President Obama announced he will be visiting one of the three Chrysler Toledo auto plants on June 3 to personally congratulate the workers for their sacrifices.
As former Governor Strickland pointed out, 6,000 automotive industry jobs were added in Ohio between March 2010 and March 2011, which has helped reduce Ohio’s unemployment rate for 14 consecutive months. And that’s not to mention thousands of other jobs saved and added in the vast auto industry supply chain.
Now, like in every good blockbuster epic, it is time to boo and hiss the bad guys. And there are plenty of them in this saga.
By coincidence, they – Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former ambassador to China Joe Huntsman and that paragon of marital fidelity Newt Gingrich -- are all vying for the Republican presidential nomination to challenge President Obama in 2012. But the brunt of the attacks may surely be lobbed at the leader of the pack, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Mitt was raised in Michigan
Granholm made the point that Mitt was raised in Michigan where his father, George Romney, was a former automobile executive and had served as governor of the state.
The younger Romney was pilloried for his November 2008 New York Times op-ed in which he strongly opposed the bailout. Let Detroit Go Bankrupt was the head placed on the article, although in all fairness, Romney probably didn’t write it, but an editor did.
Politicians often have to eat their words, but for Romney these can only cause more voter indigestion. When taken in the context of Chrysler’s remarkable turnaround, the most charitable thing that can be said about Romney is that he should have wiped the mud off his crystal ball.
Strickland suggested Ohio voters remember to ask the GOP naysayers about their opposition to saving Ohio jobs when they descend upon our pivotal state for campaign events and fundraisers and ask workers for their votes. That alone could make for an interesting political season.
Here’s how last Tuesday’s Big Three put it.
First, here’s Granholm:
“President Obama’s strategic and smart intervention saved more than a million jobs. He saved the manufacturing backbone of America. GM and Chrysler are profitable again. They are hiring workers, they are adding shifts, they are bringing back workers who were laid off, and we can feel it in Michigan…If Mitt Romney and these other Republicans had their way, Michigan families, and Midwestern families, would have been left out in the cold and would have lost their jobs and their way of life. These voters aren’t going to forget who stood with them when (they) needed it."
Not to be outdone in any Michigan-Ohio rivalry was Strickland, who said, “There was a recent announcement that Chrysler and GM are investing more in Ohio, in new manufacturing plants and that will mean more workers.... Anyone who says President Obama’s decision to help the auto industry out is anything short of a success is crazy.”
King wrapped it all up neatly when he said, “Manufacturing affects businesses across the country. These jobs sustain families and communities…We’re going to make sure our membership remembers who stood with them. Salaried, hourly, union, non-union -- all these workers -- they’re going to remember the president stood up for them and helped save their jobs."
Before heading to Ohio and Michigan to campaign, the GOP hopefuls might do well to heed the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo as frequently heard on I Love Lucy:
“Lucy, you got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.”
And obviously so do Mitt, Tim, Joe and Newt.
Personally, I just can’t wait to hear it.