The Washington Post

Obama slices more bailout baloney

Speaking to the United Auto Workers today, President Obama took a shot at Republican Mitt Romney, albeit without naming him directly. Quoting words from Romney’s now notorious Nov. 18, 2008 op-ed on the auto industry, Obama said: “I've got to admit, it's been funny to watch some of these folks completely try to rewrite history now that you're back on your feet. The same folks who said, if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, ‘you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.’ Now they're saying, we were right all along.”

No doubt Romney has backed-and-forthed on the auto bailout. Still, the president’s speech grossly distorts Romney’s article, which reads: “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed. . . . Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.”

Romney was clearly referring to the automakers’ Nov. 17 request for a $25 billion government loan — not any Obama “plan.” The companies’ request flopped on Capitol Hill because, as Romney noted, it did not include a convincing restructuring proposal.

In fact, at the time Romney published his piece, there was no Obama “plan.” The president’s packaged bankruptcy-cum-restructuring didn’t crystallize until well after his January 20, 2009 inauguration. So Romney could not have been criticizing it on Nov. 18 — though he obviously has done so since.

In his speech to the UAW, Obama accused the GOP of slinging “a load of you know what.” Two can play at that game, apparently.

Charles Lane is a Post editorial writer, specializing in economic policy, federal fiscal issues and business, and a contributor to the PostPartisan blog.


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