Sunday, February 19, 2012

CBS is Lying About Romney

Yeah, hardly dog bites man, but pretty flagrant and crafty. For your perusal, an article about GM and Romney titled, "Is auto bailout Romney's Achilles heel in Mich.?" The writer goes on to say (emphasis added):
Still, some business and political leaders opposed it, like Mitt Romney, who was contemplating another presidential run at the time. Romney, a Detroit-born son of an auto company CEO who became a Michigan governor, penned a November 2008 Op-Ed in the New York Times declaring "You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye" if the government bailout went through. "Its demise will be virtually guaranteed," Romney wrote. Glende said, "I'm glad the Obama Administration didn't listen to them, you know. I think there's a lot of job opportunities that would have been lost."
Notice the human drama of saved and created jobs, all attributable to president Obama, while Romney comes off as Old Man Potter. The writer even refers to the NY Times op-ed Romney wrote during the bailout as evidence (with the catchy title "Let Detroit go Bankrupt") as if he thought perhaps nobody had actually read it.  Henry Payne of the Detroit News read it and came up with the following (emphasis added again):
Exhibit A is the fiction that Mitt Romney "was willing to let (the American auto industry) just die" as President Obama repeatedly puts it in speeches - uncorrected by his MSM allies. Michigan is crucial to Obama's fall reelection and Romney is a formidable obstacle. Solidifying a narrative that the GOP challenger is anti-autos is crucial, not just to mobilizing blue collars but also swing white collars whose jobs were saved by government intervention. "Just like Mitt Romney, who wanted Detroit to go bankrupt, Newt Gingrich opposed the rescue loan that saved the U.S. auto industry and 1.4 million American jobs," Obama spokesman Clark Pettig told The Detroit News this weekend. Huh? Both Romney and Obama advocated bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler.
Wow, it really doesn't sound like Romney opposed the bailout, it sounds like he opposed the kind of bailout Obama was suggesting at the time (late 2008).  That's a distinction with a difference.  Payne calls it campaign season "misinformation", which is rather generous.  The final version turned out somewhat similar to the op-ed (with some major differences) as Romney has been saying.        

How could CBS do it?  Hmm, maybe some of these wascally Democrats, sorry, journalists figure that team Romney won't push back too hard because to do so would be the show strong support of...bailouts in general.  And we all know the TEA Party hates bailouts, even if they make sense.

For the record, this blogger is not a Romney supporter.  This blog was also in favor of a structured bailout of GM, not Chrysler, because they were a strategic asset similar to Penn Central in the 70s, which went bankrupt and was merged--by the feds--along with five other moribund railroads to form "Conrail" in order to protect necessary rail infrastructure in the industrial heartland from liquidation.  Ironically that was another fiasco brought about by oppressive government regulations combined with overly feathery union contracts.

But there ya go.  CBS lies about Romney because they evidently think they can get away with it, just like they are getting away with reporting about how great GM is doing without showing all the magic dust details so Obama can take credit. If Edsel had been largely devoid of taxes for a substantial period of time (something most bankrupt companies don't get--GM actually pays less than Buffett's secretary), had a CEO from a presidential jobs council order a line of their cars (in this case the Volt for their fleet), screwed their bondholders in all kinds of innovative new ways uncommon to standard bankruptcies, and had union workers (whose previous contracts contributed to the downfall) take a big under-the-radar pay cut while all the while still owing billions of bailout dollars to the taxpayers they too might still be making cars five years after their actual demise.

Meanwhile recent news reports herald the 7000 dollar bonus checks unionized members will be earning soon thanks to a record profit to be reported for the year--highest in company history, while for some reason salaried employees are to get whacked on bonuses because they didn't meet some unnamed 'targets' amidst an all-time record profit. Talk about Old Man Potter!  Also, their traditional pension plans are also being frozen in favor of a 401K contribution plan because...
GM said its pension plan was underfunded. The automaker said it would release more details on that Thursday. The automaker said that part of its incentive for switching the plan to a 401(k) is to transfer investor liability from the employer to the employee.

Ah yes, they deserve it, don't they, the evil white collar men of greed.   And Romney is one of them, the man who said that GM would die if the bailout went through, according to CBS.  But let's go back to the Romney op-ed and re-read the very first paragraph, for clarity, again bolding the seminal part:
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.
Notice he didn't exactly say what the CBS hack suggested.  It's great that GM workers are still working, we all feel for them and want them to succeed like everyone else, but the jury is still out on whether they can do so long-term, as Romney alluded.  But hey, everything is good news during a presidential campaign year.  So America, do not whine or complain, even if you favored a different type of bailout.  GM is an American success story, dammit.

MORE  2/19/12

The Times fires another shot, although it's a bit more balanced than others.   Let's get some facts in order here first.  The Romney op-ed appeared in the Times on November 18, 2008.  At that point Bush had not yet pulled the trigger on the first phase of the auto bailout but the TARP was in place.  Going to the video, er digital, this is from mid December 2008 and the Times itself:
The plan pumps $13.4 billion by mid-January into the companies from the fund that Congress authorized to rescue the financial industry. But the two companies have until March 31 to produce a plan for long-term profitability, including concessions from unions, creditors, suppliers and dealers. In February, another $4 billion will be available for G.M. if the rest of the $700 billion bailout package has been released. Even before the March 31 deadline, it might fall to the Obama administration to persuade Congress to release the second $350 billion of the Treasury Department’s huge financial system stabilization program — a request that the Bush administration is reluctant to make.
Of course when Obama came in he basically stopped the Bush plan and set up a task force, forcing the automakers into a managed bankruptcy with goals similar to both Romney's and the ones described above, sans the socialism, control, and political favor parts.  He also continued to shovel a lot of money to them during the process.  So the crux of this kerfuffle is whether Romney was against the Bush cash outlays in general (a standard bailout propping up the companies) or whether he would have allowed some cash to flow pursuant to managed bankruptcy. Let's go back to the op-ed:
But don’t ask Washington to give shareholders and bondholders a free pass — they bet on management and they lost. The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk. In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check.
As we know, Washington DID NOT end up giving bondholders and shareholders a free pass--they lost their shirts in the new upside down process used in the bankruptcy. Romney also favored the feds providing "guarantees" for financing and said they should back warranties.  Sounds like some cash involved in such a thing.  Does that get him off the hook or just put him further into the weeds?

So one could say, and Mittens might try, that he was against the BUSH BAILOUTS that were occurring before the Inaugural, which didn't push the companies off the deep end as he had suggested.  In other words, if we just keep pumping in cash without changing the structure it was going to be a waste, which was absolutely correct!   Bush respected the office of the president and the voters and simply pushed the problem along by extending bailouts to the Inaugural so Obama could handle it.  It appears Romney was apparently against those bailouts but not the bankruptcy that actually occurred, which Obama is now using to claim he saved Detroit.  Go it?

Yet such is the problem with Romney--he often appears to be on both sides of an issue.  Not sure that kind of nuance will satisfy the TEA Party, and it darn sure won't stop the media and left from mischaracterizing it in an attempt to give Mittens an embarrassing loss in Michigan, his automobile father's home state.

No comments: