That might well be the upshot of Romney’s op-ed in the Detroit News this week deriding the 2009 automotive bailout as “crony capitalism” and calling it a sop to the United Auto Workers union for supporting President Barack Obama’s campaign. Romney wins points here for courage and consistency (he has taken this position before), but not for political smarts or judgment.
Romney has found himself in the shaky position of defending Romneycare, the government-financed healthcare plan in Massachusetts, while criticizing the government-financed rescue of GM and Chrysler. It’s hard to see a consistent political philosophy in this, which is why conservatives don’t trust Romney. It’s also hard to understand why, on the eve of Michigan’s critical primary, Romney is criticizing the only Obama domestic-policy initiative that actually has worked.
Not surprisingly, the $81 billion bailout was, and remains, wildly popular in Michigan. But on a more fundamental level, the government bailout was the only way to save General Motors and Chrysler, and thus was a critical element in preventing the Great Recession from morphing into Great Depression II.
Recall that in November 2008, the month Obama was elected, the U.S. economy shed 533,000 jobs, the biggest monthly job loss in more than 30 years. That jolted George W. Bush, a Republican, into action. The first $25 billion in government bailout money was approved by the Bush administration before Obama took office.