Guess who was telling the truth?
ROMNEY: I just want to take one of those points, again, attacking me as not talking about an agenda for — for getting more trade and opening up more jobs in this country. But the president mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy. And in that process, they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they’d — they’d built up.
OBAMA: Governor Romney, that’s not what you said…
OBAMA: Governor Romney, you did not…
ROMNEY: You can take a look at the op-ed…
OBAMA: You did not say that you would provide government help.
ROMNEY: I said that we would provide guarantees, and — and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry, of course not. Of course not.
OBAMA: Let’s check the record.
ROMNEY: That’s the height of silliness…
OBAMA: Let — let — let’s…
ROMNEY: I have never said I would liquidate…
OBAMA: …at the record.
ROMNEY: …I would liquidate the industry.
OBAMA: Governor, the people in Detroit don’t forget.
Obama 1) implied Romney said he would liquidate the industry and 2) claimed that Romney did not say we should provide government help. He later doubled down on point #2:
OBAMA: The — look, I think anybody out there can check the record. Governor Romney, you keep on trying to, you know airbrush history here. You were very clear that you would not provide, government assistance to the U.S. auto companies, even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn’t true. They would have gone through a…
ROMNEY: You’re wrong…
OBAMA: …they would have gone through a…
ROMNEY: …you’re wrong.
OBAMA: No, I am not wrong. I am not wrong.
ROMNEY: People can look it up, you’re right.
OBAMA: People will look it up.
Again, Obama is saying Romney was clear that he would not provide government help.
So, I did look it up. And here, in relevant part, is what Romney said. Focus on Obama’s claims. Does Romney push for liquidating the auto industry? Does Romney rule out any government help for the auto industry? Let’s look:
It is not wrong to ask for government help, but the automakers should come up with a win-win proposition. I believe the federal government should invest substantially more in basic research — on new energy sources, fuel-economy technology, materials science and the like — that will ultimately benefit the automotive industry, along with many others. I believe Washington should raise energy research spending to $20 billion a year, from the $4 billion that is spent today. The research could be done at universities, at research labs and even through public-private collaboration. The federal government should also rectify the imbedded tax penalties that favor foreign carmakers.
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.
Romney did not indicate that he wanted to liquidate the auto companies. He did say there should be guarantees and government help.
Obama lied. Let’s see how the Fact Checkers do on this.