Political Animal


August 26, 2011 9:55 AM It’s a good thing Obama saved the auto industry

By Steve Benen

Remember a few years ago, when the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse? When Republicans said the Obama administration’s risky strategy would fail and Mitt Romney said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt” and we could “kiss the American automotive industry goodbye” if Obama’s policy moved forward?

We can all be very glad right now that Republicans were wrong. The auto industry is one of the economy’s few bright spots.

Taxpayers bailed out much of the U.S. auto industry. Now the carmakers might be what saves the nation’s economy from falling back into recession.

After a massive restructuring and several high-profile bankruptcies, a leaner, more aggressive auto industry is making a comeback, hiring workers and ramping up manufacturing plants. From a trough two years ago, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Chrysler Group and other auto companies have added almost 90,000 manufacturing jobs, a 14% increase, according to federal employment data.

Kevin Drum flagged a chart from the L.A. Times piece, but added a helpful blue line to show the before-and-after difference for the industry once the Obama administration’s policy was enacted.

I continue to think of this as one of the Obama White House’s best success stories, even if it’s largely overlooked by the political world. Two years ago, NBC News established a tough benchmark: “As the GM bailout goes, so goes the Obama presidency.”

Well, the rescue policy worked.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • DAY on August 26, 2011 10:05 AM:

    Too bad that saving the industry had to weaken the UAW.

  • Zorro on August 26, 2011 10:16 AM:

    But I propose a syllogism:

    * Anything which helps Obama + the Dems is bad for the US;
    * The rescue of the US auto industry helps Obama + the Dems;
    * Therefore, the rescue of the US auto industry is bad.

    Simple, no? Well, simple-minded, at least.


  • RepublicanPointOfView on August 26, 2011 10:17 AM:

    It would have been a success story that our corporately owned media would have trumpeted continuously. That is, if the auto industry had gone under and proven our republican politicians successfully right and Obama wrong. As is, it does not fit our narrative and will be ignored.

    Craptcha is wrong again! It says "miditi ignorance" when it should have said "republican ignorance".

  • Steve Paradis on August 26, 2011 10:17 AM:

    I wonder if those "Romney is big in Michigan" polls (and Ohio, Illinois, Missouri etal.) include knowledge of that quote and the thinking behind it.

  • walt on August 26, 2011 10:23 AM:

    There's a simple message here that begs to be screamed: Bet on America.

    Romney won't do it. He was too busy liquidating them at Bain. Republicans don't care if manufacturing itself dies. Democrats saved the auto industry and hundreds of thousands of (for this day) good-paying jobs.

    You can either believe Obama here or the toxic religion of tax cuts for the rich. Think before you vote.

  • bleh on August 26, 2011 10:30 AM:

    Yes, but Fascist socialism, federal tax-and-spend debt burden, gummint interference free-market confidence bonds, and Detroit welfare queens.

    Also Kenyan usurper gaymarriage UN jackboots coming to take away your guns.

  • c u n d gulag on August 26, 2011 10:33 AM:

    You forgot the black helicopters!

    How could you forget the BLACK! helicopters?

    "Why do we need an auto industry? If dinosaurs were good enough for Adam and Ever to ride..."

  • plim on August 26, 2011 10:33 AM:


    This message should be draped along the outisde wall of every automotive plant, parts manufacturer and distributor associated with the rescue.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on August 26, 2011 10:36 AM:

    Bleh you forgot my favorite warrenbuffetsocialist he who would suggest oh horrors, that the rich are not taxed enough

  • stratplayer on August 26, 2011 11:03 AM:

    I'm surprised there aren't more Republicans falling over one another to grab credit for the very thing they opposed. Isn't that their typical modus operandi?

  • Josef K on August 26, 2011 11:09 AM:

    The only thing I wish from this is that the curve once again ascends to the 1.07 million mark, preferably sooner rather than later.

  • Gregory on August 26, 2011 11:24 AM:

    I continue to think of this as one of the Obama White Houseís best success stories, even if itís largely overlooked by the political world.

    The latter has quite a bit to do with the former.

  • David Carlton on August 26, 2011 1:17 PM:

    Er, exactly how were GM and Chrysler "bailed out"? The shareholders took a bath, the bondholders got a haircut, the union was forced to put their members' skin in the game, dealerships were decimated, plants and communities got hit, and Chrysler got swallowed up by Fiat. I raise this not because I don't think it was a good idea (it was) but because the whole "bailout" meme opens up a fallback position for the right, namely that even if it was a success it was a bad idea because of (yes) "moral hazard." Calling it a "bailout" perpetuates the notion that the Obama administration protected these companies from the consequences of their own actions and made it more likely that firms in trouble would expect the same in the future. While "bailout" may accurately describe what Bush and Paulsen did, though, it was not what Obama's people did; they basically seized the company and restructured it.