Steve Benen (who has moved his blog from The Washington Monthly‘s website to Rachel Maddow‘s at MSNBC) makes some good points in his post yesterday on the thriving state of the U.S. auto industry, one of the brightest spots in the current U.S. economy. (See also Andrew Leondard’s piece at Salon.)
Back in the spring of 2009 both GM and Chrysler were on the verge of going out of business, throwing a staggering number of people out of work and putting many related companies out of business. The Obama administration responded by temporarily taking over GM and Chrysler and giving them enough funds to restore their profitability so that taxpayers could be paid back as soon as possible. The result has been a spectacular success. Chrysler, which had been in trouble since long before the recession began, has just posted its first profit since the booming Clinton years.
As Benen reminds us, the Republican leaders at the time predicted certain disaster. House Minority Leader (now Speaker) John Boehner of Ohio asked, “Does anyone really believe that politicians and bureaucrats in Washington can successfully steer a multi-national corporation to economic viability?” Republican South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint complained, “Now the government has forced taxpayers to buy these failing companies without any plausible plan for profitability.” Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said, “It’s the road toward socialism.” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele called it, “nothing more than another government grab of a private company and another handout to the union cronies who helped bankroll his presidential campaign.”
And current Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney wrote on the National Review website that it would be necessary for “the Obama administration to keep up the subsidy for years and years to come.” He called the rescue plan “as ineffective as it is un-American” and “even worse than bankruptcy — it would make GM the living dead.”