Is the auto bailout Obama’s 2012 ‘secret weapon’?
There is speculation in political circles that the White House is preparing a PR offensive to raise the profile of one of its less widely-known successes, the bailout of the automotive industry.
According to Politico, President Obama is joining forces with the Alliance for American Manufacturing and the United Autoworkers in an attempt to bring the auto industry’s accomplishments to center stage as the 2012 campaign season begins to heat up. A large portion of both organizations’ members rely heavily on automotive manufacturing for their livelihoods, jobs that would have been lost if the companies had gone under.
General Motors has announced that it’s making two billion dollars in new investments at 18 U.S. plants, a pattern of overall improvement among bailout recipients, putting the auto companies on track to pay back most of the funds they borrowed from the U.S. Treasury. While much of the public is currently unaware of the success of the bailout program, strategists are optimistic that the industry’s successes will lend credence to Democratic policies while becoming an albatross around the necks of the Republicans who opposed the payments to car companies. The funds were paid out in two lump payments in 2008 and 2009.
The list of Republicans who tried to block the bailout reads like a “who’s who” of 2012 hopefuls. The plan was opposed by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Michele Bachmann. Romney even warned darkly in a New York Times Op-Ed piece called “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” that if the government offered auto companies bailout money, “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye”.