A number of conservatives have already pointed to President Obama’s vulnerability on the issue of corporate layoffs. The Washington Examiner’s Byron York writes:
While Obama often cites his success in “saving” the car industry, few remember today how many (non-union) workers lost their jobs in the Obama administration’s handling of the matter. During the economic crisis, General Motors and Chrysler shut down more than 700 dealerships, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. And the companies did it under pressure from Obama.
“President Obama’s auto task force pressed General Motors and Chrysler to close scores of dealerships without adequately considering the jobs that would be lost or having a firm idea of the cost savings that would be achieved, an audit of the process has concluded,” the New York Times reported in July 2010. “The report … estimated that tens of thousands of jobs were lost as a result.”
The Obama administration argued that the loss of jobs was necessary to save far more (union) jobs at GM and Chrysler. Now, the Obama campaign will likely say the same thing. But in the auto bailouts, whatever else one thinks of them, Barack Obama pushed for downsizing and laying people off in a failing business he had taken over.
At least for now that’s not the Romney tactic to point to the auto bailout. Instead the campaign points to Solyndra and what it calls Obama’s “warped view of the free market.”
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul put out this statement in response to the ad: “We welcome the Obama campaign’s attempt to pivot back to jobs and a discussion of their failed record. Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as Governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation. President Obama has many questions to answer as to why his administration used the stimulus to reward wealthy campaign donors with taxpayer money for bad ideas like Solyndra, but 23 million Americans are still struggling to find jobs. If the Obama administration was less concerned about pleasing their wealthy donors and more concerned about creating jobs, America would be much better off.”
The Romney camp also points to a plethora of information on the steel company that is the subject of Obama’s attack ad, noting that the ad has pretty much been debunked already. It cites among other things The Post’s Fact Checker report from this month that found Romney shouldn't be blamed for the job losses at the steel plant that occurred after he left Bain.
But the most interesting counterattack is to contrast Romney’s experience in the real economy with Obama’s crony capitalism. The campaign points to Solyndra — the billions in wasted taxpayer dollars, and the ensuing job losses.
It is a smart play to counterattack, but Romney will at some point need to defend his Bain record with statistical evidence that is more detailed than what he presented in the primary on claimed job-creation and with the flip side of Bain — the personal success stories and human accounts of employees who found work and rewards at Bain companies. For now, however, the Romney camp is daring Obama to come play on Romney’s turf: job creation and capitalism. Liberal pundits think they win on this ground, but I’m not so sure. When the discussion turns to the economy, Romney is convinced that Obama has a indefensible record. We’ll find out who is right.