He may have strong ties to Michigan – where his father once served as governor – but presidential contender Mitt Romney has little good to say about the government bailouts that saved two of that state’s “Big Three” automakers.
In fact, he leveled his latest criticism of the federal aid handed out by Presidents George W. Bush and Barrack Obama during an appearance in the shadow of Chrysler’s headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills.
Contending “Michigan was the pride of the nation,” when his father George was governor, Romney asserted that the multi-billion-dollar rescues for Chrysler and General Motors “wasted billions of dollars initially,” and were “the wrong way to go.”
The two makers began receiving aid during the final days of the Bush Administration, with even more cash coming as they emerged from Chapter 11 protection in mid-2009. The bailouts have been a frequent target of criticism from conservatives, in particular, commentators on the right continuing to refer to GM as Government Motors despite its improving financial performance and the sale of the majority of its government-held stock.
The subject came up during the latest debate between Republican presidential contenders but while the other candidates avoided the issue – possibly recognizing local sensibilities – the debate moderator made sure to put Romney on the spot.
In fact, John Harwood bluntly noted Romney’s frequent shifts in position on the subject, suggesting he has been “on all sides of the subject.”
Romney, who has been taking frequent hits for seeming changes in position, responded, “It was the wrong way to go. I said from the very beginning they should go through a managed bankruptcy process.”
As to what he would have done, Romney initially suggested he would have called for a “private-sector bailout,” quickly correcting himself with the more politically correct :private-sector restructuring.”