Driving The Car Out Of The Ditch

When President Obama came into office, one of his first decisions was to wade into the domestic automobile industry to save Chrysler and GM from full-scale collapse. If you remember, the economy at the time was in free-fall and people were freaking out. The big motor companies had been nearly a decade too slow in re-structuring their companies and were set to become the next casualties in a rapidly expanding recession. Obama and his team took drastic and then-controversial steps to bail out the car-makers, to the tune of $86 billion dollars and a host of strings attached. Predictably, the right-wing went apoplectic, deriding the actions as “socialism” and implying that the Big Three should be left to die. Never mind that the resulting failure would bring down a huge chunk of the US workforce with it, the Republicans were happy to close the doors and turn off the lights, despite the consequences.

However, just as predictably, the Republicans were dead wrong. Since the bailout, all three have posted quarterly profits, added jobs and are set to finish paying back the government’s financial gift. As Steve notes, the insane rhetoric about “government takeovers” looks even more silly now that the plan was an unqualified success. Of course, that won’t stop the deceit from the right. Michele Bachmann, everyone’s favorite queen of crazy-town, still insists that the bailout was an example of “gangster government” and that the car industry has been “nationalized” (not hardly). Perhaps she didn’t get the memo showing how 55,000 jobs have been added to the Big Three since the bailout? Even though CBS news decided to put quotation marks around “Success Story” in the headline, the result is exactly that.

Once again, the right wing pisses away any credibility on monetary policy. Had their ideas been put into place, we would not be talking about 55,000 jobs gained and taxpayer funds being repaid. No, we’d be looking at nearly a million people out of work and no US auto industry. Keep in mind that this do-nothing approach was the Republicans’ solution to the entire fiscal crisis. How many millions would be out of work if the government had not stepped in to rescue other sectors of the economy? It would have been a very bleak picture indeed. And, it would have been just fine with the right, as they would not have hesitated to reap political gain from the President’s (and the country’s) failure.

Except that’s not how it works in the real world. The Republicans were (and still are) wrong, the Big Three are growing again, US auto manufacturing is shifting towards the future, and Obama gets to tout the victory in the heart of car country today, to a group of people who are no doubt thankful we didn’t listen to the radical right concerning their livelihood. But don’t wait for the right to come to their senses and praise the bailout as helping American business; they’ll surely find some way to turn 55,000 jobs gained into some sort of communist plot.

I wonder why the GOP hates the US auto industry?


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