Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 4, 2010

WHY WHINE ABOUT SUCCESS?.... In his speech at the Heritage Foundation today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) repeatedly complains about "bailouts." It seemed like an odd point to whine about -- in 2008, McConnell not only endorsed and voted for the financial industry bailout, he rallied other Republicans to do the same, ensuring its passage.

But he eventually elaborated on the point, objecting to the rescue of American auto manufacturers:

"[Administration officials] bailed out automakers that should have been allowed to reorganize or fail. And it shouldn't be lost on anybody, by the way, that the only one that refused a bailout, Ford, is the one that's doing best today."

Only a Republican leader would identify one of the administration's most important successes, complain about it, and fudge the details, all at the same time.

Honestly, is this really what McConnell wants to whine about? Under the Republican approach of 2008, officials were just throwing money at GM, hoping things would get better. What the Obama administration did was more serious -- instead of just giving GM money to stay afloat, the president used our money to actually purchase a stake in GM. In the process, Obama forced GM to declare bankruptcy, wiped out shareholders, and removed top managers.

Republicans insisted this would fail. They were wrong. Leaner, stronger auto manufacturers are seeing their profits grow, and they're creating jobs again, all while paying back taxpayers.

It's reached the point at which some Republicans who opposed the policy have actually tried to take credit for it.

As for Ford, it may not have been bailed out, but the company, like its American competitors, was struggling badly. If GM and Chrysler had collapsed, there's absolutely no doubt that Ford wouldn't have had the suppliers it needed to survive. Ford's executives have already acknowledged this; it's not exactly a contentious point.

If McConnell wants to complain about missteps, fine. But if the U.S. had followed his course last year, literally millions of Americans would have lost their jobs, and American manufacturing would have been devastated -- to the point from which there is no recovery.

McConnell said a lot of dumb things today. This is among the dumbest.

Steve Benen 5:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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And yet his party just did awfully well in Michigan, so who's to say he won't get away with it?

Posted by: demtom on November 4, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

SAY YES to Tax increases for the Über Rich 

Republicans destroyed the economy by lax financial regulation coupled with tax cuts for the wealthy which forced great deficits upon the country.  Now they want to give the rich even more money.

 The rich have had a free ride since Reagan when the highest tax rates were cut from 70% to 35%.  Now the country and the economy are in trouble.  It is time the rich pay their fair share.

There is no reason to give Paris Hilton more Gucci handbags, music industry execs another Mercedes Benz, or Donald Trump additional Rolex watches when people are unemployed, losing their houses, and cannot afford college or health insurance.

Please, tell your elected officials you not only oppose the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, but would like to see the top rate restored to the pre-Reagan level. The alternative is a continued reliance on selling goods and services to the über rich, a weak strategy at best - after all one needs only so much Tiffany jewelry. 

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on November 4, 2010 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

But he didn't say anything about his roll in bringing about the Internet, so he won't get called on it.

Posted by: IOKIYAR on November 4, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Might want to check out how big Ford and Toyota operations are in Kentucky and how cheap, relatively speaking, Kentuckian auto workers are.

Posted by: gone_west on November 4, 2010 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Automakers that should have been allowed to reorganize...."? GM and Chrysler did reorganize. Shareholder equity was wiped out, bondholders took a hit, and the companies were restructured. That's what bankruptcy is.

What does McConnell mean here? I'm honestly confused.

Posted by: Emily B. on November 4, 2010 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously people!

(1) Are there still unions at the GM and Chrysler shops? (or anywhere else in America for that matter?)

Then the bailout was a failure.

(2) Did the bailouts give an edge to, or create more jobs at, the foreign-owned auto plants in Kentucky and other soutehrn Red states?

Then the bailout was a failure!

This isn't so hard. The auto bailout was obviously a failure.

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 4, 2010 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

"In his speech at the Heritage Foundation today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) repeatedly complains about "bailouts."

I assume Mr. McConnell will favor elimination of all farm subsidies, for what else are subsidies but bailouts?

Posted by: Jose Padilla on November 4, 2010 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

I get it! He's probably in the pay of a Japanese or German auto maker. Maybe even a Korean one.

Country first! (as long as that country IS NOT America)

I heard that when one of Obama's economic advisers told Wall St that bubbles won't do it anymore, that America had to return to 'making things' -- they BOOED her.

Posted by: jjm on November 4, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Attack your enemies strengths.

Who cares if they save the auto industry in the US and thousands of jobs along with it?

Wield it against them!

Posted by: doubtful on November 4, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Your problem Steve is you think there is such a thing as the truth that everyone must abide by. What you fail to realize is that some people want you to lie to them. It makes them feel better about themselves. They want to know that their ideas actually work. Don't spoil the mental masturbation fest for them. Lying works!

Posted by: John Henry on November 4, 2010 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Steve continues his brave but futile attempts to find reason and logic in our political system today.

Posted by: Speed on November 4, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't it seem like Democrats always get put in a position of doing something that helps the general good but hurts their interests as a party? I guess that's what it's like when you try to take seriously your responsibility of cleaning up the mess other people have left behind.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on November 4, 2010 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

hell we just had a change in control of the house caused by people who not only hadn't realized that Obama had given them a tax cut but thought he had hiked their taxes. Nothings off the table anymore.

Posted by: Jamie on November 4, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

@zeitgeist: Bingo, it was always about the unions. Wasn't it obvious (and disgusting) that the republicans were salivating at the thought that they could destroy the auto workers union. Their behavior then should have illuminated their priorities to the rest of the country. Wealthy first, closely followed by corporations, with the country running a distant third. As long as the unions are allowed to continue to exist the auto bailout will always be considered a failure by the republicans. Opposing the auto bailout was their chance to institute their own shock doctrine on the country.

Posted by: lianne16 on November 4, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it always up to bloggers to call McConnell a phony. At some point - maybe in my lifetime - the Administration or some elected Democrat get out in front of a camera and start fighting back.

Posted by: William Jensen on November 4, 2010 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Someone tell McConnell that Canada and the unions also were involved int he bailout.
He is stupid to talk so much.

Posted by: Maude on November 4, 2010 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

I love Hart Williams' take on it:


"Like a severely abused and beaten whore, America has walked out of rehab to return to the brutal pimp who forcibly addicted her - for another 'taste'"

Posted by: Mark on November 4, 2010 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

I know this is probably irrelevant to anything...but I really have wondered in the last year if McConnell is congenitally stupid...or he's so cynical it's a wonder he isn't pickled in his own bile.

In the past, I've always picked *both* in response to this choice. But McConnell (and Boehner, I might add) have displayed such a reckless, feckless disregard for plain, obvious truth, and such a knee-jerk talent for lying through their teeth, I honestly don't know anymore, although I'm starting to think McConnell in particular is just a pathetic dumb-shit who is very lucky in his choice of districts--his voters must be even dumber than he is.

Not that I'd underestimate him. But it might help in the struggle to fight him if we knew if he was profoundly stupid, or profoundly cynical...or, I suppose, just profoundly and permanently confused about nearly everything.

Posted by: LL on November 4, 2010 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

The voters who know better didn't vote. The voters who pretty much don't know anything at all (anything true, anyway) did vote. It was all the pathetically deluded old people who did us in this time. Deceived and deluded by GOP lying and guys like Beck and Limbaugh, who lie all day, every day, forever and ever amen...and these voters actually believe them. I know a few of these voters, and they are genuinely frightening. They strike me as insane, in a weird way. Completely, totally out of touch with reality.

Until americans who know better--if they exist--start voting more consistently and in greater numbers we will continue to be ruled by liars and thieves and con-men.

Posted by: LL on November 4, 2010 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

safer to assume profoundly cynical

Posted by: PEA on November 4, 2010 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

This entire gist of posts this is, once again, only designed to make you folks feel better even while your agenda is being corrupted.

Frankly, McConnell said a lot of smart things yesterday, you folks just choose to ignore it.

One thing he said is that a) if the Repubs want to repeal Obamacare then logically b) they need to kill the Obama presidency and thus c) that's what they're going to do by d) obstructing everything.

The POTUS said "let's all work together".

From a logic perspective, who said the stupider thing today, Obama or McConnell?

If McConnell is "dumb" then the POTUS is 1000 times "dumber".

Gawd you folks are needy.

Posted by: Observer on November 4, 2010 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Even though I don't think I agree with Observer politically, he's making a pretty good point (thought not necessarily exactly in the way he meant it).

Posted by: karmafrog on November 4, 2010 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Astonishingly in spite of denouncing and dennouncing and denouncing him, you actually left out* a valid criticism of McConnell. When noting the case of Ford, he implicitly assumed that the bailouts were exogenous and so a valid controlled experiment. Of course that's absurd. Ford was doing better than GM and Crystler so it wasn't bailed out. It is no surprise that Ford is still doing better.

*I'm sure you thought of this criticism and didn't type it in order to save space. I agree. There aren't enough pixels in cyberspace to waste them pointing out every error McConnell makes.

McConnell is trying to confuse people about the direction of causation. I really really hope he is lying. I'd be terrified if someone who actually believed that argument were in a position of power.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on November 4, 2010 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

"if the U.S. had followed his course last year, literally millions of Americans would have lost their jobs, and American manufacturing would have been devastated --"

Yeah, and Republicans would have about 56 seats in the Senate.

"to the point from which there is no recovery."

Steve, I hate to break it to you, but Mitch McConnell does not give a flying fuck about what happens to the American economy. Mitch McConnell gives a flying fuck about maintaining and preferably increasing Republican political power, and as weird and illogical as it must seem to you, he's doing a very good job according to *his* standards.

But hey, maybe you can talk some sense into him. He seems pretty dumb, doesn't he?

Or maybe you're trying to guilt-trip the media into giving a shit about this. That wouldn't be *quite* as hopeless of a cause, but if the media were capable of asking Republicans fair questions, we wouldn't be where we are today. They seem rather... well, simple-minded about politics would be an understatement.

Posted by: Chris on November 4, 2010 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

It should also be kept in mind that Ford was right beside GM and Chrysler in all the Congressional hearings, emphasizing how important support for the industry would be. They did decide later to not ask for help, but they certainly wanted the option available, and they wholeheartedly supported what was done for GM and Chrysler. They've also tried to spin things in their favor since, but the history and photos of the Congressional hearings shouldn't be forgotten.

Posted by: Foreigner on November 5, 2010 at 3:47 AM | PERMALINK

Unbelievable that McConnell would say this, given how many times the president has given fiery speeches in which he's pounded podiums and said, "These programs worked, and here's the proof," citing all the available evidence.

...Wait -- the president never does that? Oh, yeah, that's right. He doesn't.

Never mind.

Posted by: Steve M. on November 5, 2010 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK

All it is ever about for Republicans is cheap labor.

Thus, auto industry success equals failure because of unions.

Unions are what created the middle class.

Now, the word 'union', like 'liberal' has successfully been cast as a bad word, something evil that must be stopped.

But of course banks and Wall Street are not unions, so no failing or reorganization calls for them.

Wake up, people.

Posted by: terraformer on November 5, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

What often disappears in this automotive bailout discussion is the fact that it is in our strategic defense interests as a nation to maintain the auto industry in the United States. Who do you think had the know how and facilities to manufacture all those tanks during WWII? It is critical that, at a very minimum, this area of manufacturing remain on American shores.

The bailout was necessary. The repugnant thing about the automotive bailout was that it was a tool used to weaken and destroy the automotive unions.

Notice that the government could not step in and demand that contracts between CEOs and the companies they work for be renegotiated as part of the Wall Street bailout. Yet this was what was demanded from labor as part of the automotive bailout.

Shock Doctrine in action.

Posted by: A Warren on November 5, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK



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