(WASHINGTON) — Just days before the Michigan GOP primary, the Obama campaign has taken a swipe at former Gov. Mitt Romney in a new TV ad that contrasts the president’s support for a 2009 bailout of Detroit-based GM and Chrysler with Romney’s opinion that they should go through bankruptcy without taxpayer help.
“When a million jobs were on the line,” the narrator says of the 2008 financial crisis that consumed the automakers, “every Republican candidate turned their back.”
“Even said ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt,’” flashing Romney’s face and the headline from his November 2008 op-ed in the New York Times. (It should be noted that Romney never said those exact words; they were affixed to his op-ed by a Times editor.)
Democrats have made the financial rescue the centerpiece of their campaign in Michigan, hammering Romney for weeks in an effort to undermine support for him in a state where automakers and their suppliers are the largest employers.
Romney said he wanted a “managed bankruptcy,” whereby the companies would have been restructured without taxpayer funds. Many experts, however, doubt they could have survived without the advance aid.
The Obama administration claims the infusion of more than $40 billion in government cash to keep the companies afloat saved more than a million jobs and led to more than 200,000 jobs created at the companies since June 2009. His critics doubt a million jobs would have been lost, and argue bond holders would have been able to recover their investments had a bankruptcy would have been allowed to proceed.
GM reported last week a record profit for 2011 and reassumed the mantle of the number one automaker in the world. The company also said its 47,500 union workers would receive $7,000 each in shared profits — the largest sum ever.
The gains, however, have come at a cost to taxpayers.
Chrysler has paid back only $10.6 of $12.5 billion received from the government under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, according to figures provided by the White House.
GM has repaid $26 billion to date, after receiving $13.4 billion under Bush and $36.1 billion under Obama. The Treasury Department continues to own 500 million shares of GM stock, or roughly 32 percent of the company. The price of those shares will determine how much taxpayers will recoup or lose, if and when the government sells.
The new Obama ad, the campaign’s second of the 2012 cycle, will run in four Michigan markets — Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Flint, an official said.
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