Monday, April 30, 2012

Credit Roll

Here’s a good one: Mitt Romney is taking credit for the bailout of GM and Chrysler.

Vice President Joe Biden reiterated the President’s bottom-line election-year pitch on Thursday: “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” The opposite might be true, Biden said, if Mitt Romney had been president.

But top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom is also giving credit to his candidate for the auto industry’s success. At a Saturday forum hosted by the Washington Post, Fehrnstrom said that Obama’s auto industry rescue was successful because it was exactly what Romney himself proposed.

“[Romney’s] position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed,” Fehrnstrom said. “He said, ‘If you want to save the auto industry, just don’t write them a check. That will seal their doom. What they need to do is go through a managed bankruptcy process.’”

“Consider that the crown jewel,” Fehrnstrom said. “The only economic success that President Obama has had is because he followed Mitt Romney’s advice.”

Oh, so that editorial in the New York Times by Mitt Romney in November of 2008 — “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” — was a typo?

To be fair, Mr. Romney’s solution was to get private business to pump billions of dollars into the companies to keep them going while they reoragnized. Except that at the time, no private equity firms were willing — or had the money — to do that. The government became the lender of last resort. And they didn’t just hand over the money; it came with strings attached, which is the way most lenders operate: you get the money, but you play by our rules. When Bain Capital does it, it’s good business; when the government does it, it’s the heavy hand of regulation.

Isn’t it interesting that the most important thing that the Romney campaign is thinking about isn’t that the bailout worked and millions of jobs in Michigan and the Midwest weren’t lost, but who gets the credit for it?