A new TV ad produced by the Romney-Ryan campaign, running in Ohio heading into the last week of the Presidential campaign, severely distorts the facts of the auto bailout in the hopes of swaying independent voters.
The ad, showing images of American cars being crushed, has a narrator saying: "Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job." The Obama-Biden campaign has been forced to run a counter ad, which, in part, quotes Chrysler refuting Romney's claims.
In an email to employees, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said those claims are untrue.
"I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China," Marchionne wrote. "It is inaccurate to suggest anything different."
The truth: It is true that President Obama's administration took General Motors and Chrysler into a brief government-assisted bankruptcy, which was necessary to restructure the companies' debts and keep them from closing their doors. This process, led by the Obama Administration and financed by tax-payers, allowed the companies to re-emerge from bankruptcy in tact. The move has been hailed by auto industry analysts and managements of the companies (including self-described Republican GM CEO Daniel Akerson) as critical to the companies' survival and job stability in the midwest.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney opposed the government's intervention with loans or investment to save GM and Chrysler, suggesting that "loan guarantees" would have done the job. The trouble with that position is that there were no loans coming from banks or private equity firms to guarantee by the government. Romney's plan could not have been implemented. The result would have been GM and Chrysler in prolonged bankruptcy proceedings, with the pieces being sold to other foreign automakers and private equity firms, with a likely wholesale outsourcing of jobs to Mexico and other low labor cost countries, as well as to right-to-work states where wages are lower.
The assertion by the Romney ad that the government "sold Chrysler to the Italians," is entirely true. The important context left out is that Italian automaker Fiat was the only company that stepped up to make an offer for Chrysler, which badly needed another car company with which to partner. Fiat's intervention has kept the company in one piece, saved Chrysler from dissolution, increased the quality ratings of the company's products, raised its market share and profit, and resulted in a huge recovery of jobs in Michigan and Ohio.
The assertion of the Romney ad that Chrysler may build Jeeps in China is entirely true. But those Jeeps that would be built in China would be for Chinese consumers, not buyers in the U.S. It is not an out-sourcing of jobs. Every car company that wishes to sell vehicles in China must build them in China in a joint venture with a Chinese automaker. There is no plan or idea for the company to build Jeeps in China that would be exported back to the U.S. Chrysler maintains a huge manufacturing plant in Toledo, Ohio to build Jeeps, and Fiat has been investing in that facility and growing the employment there.
The Romney-Ryan ad, which the ad tracker CMAG recorded airing in the Toledo market on Saturday morning, comes as polls in Ohio show a closely fought race. A CNN/ORC poll released Friday showed Obama holding a 4-point advantage over Romney in the contest for Ohio's much-fought over 18 electoral votes.
The ad also quotes fact-checking website www.politifact.com saying that recent statements by President Obama about Romney's position on the bailout were "mostly false." Previously, the Romney campaign staff told reporters that it did not care what fact checking sites said about its own ad claims.
Additionally, AOL Autos reviewed Politifact's review of the President's statements, and found the site's analysis wanting. The site's analysts and editors do not seem to grasp the futility of Romney's position that "loan guarantees" would have been his recipe to help the auto industry in 2008 and 2009. Banks were not offering the more than $60 billion needed to save GM, Chrysler and auto parts companies because they were in free-fall themselves. And private equity companies were only showing interest in peeling off certain parts of the companies and breaking them up, such as the Jeep brand and the Chevrolet brand.
Here is the Obama-Biden response ad:
See: The Auto Industry Bailout Worth Every Penny