On Thursday, Paul Ryan took a swipe at President Obama, saying that he failed to keep his promise to rescue a Janesville, Wisconsin automobile factory. That would have been a pretty good trick, considering the factory closed in 2008 under former President Bush.
Never dissuaded by facts, the vice presidential candidate said “I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open. One more promise broken.”
In a recent interview with an ABC affiliate, Ryan voiced the complaint, implying that Obama’s rescue of the auto industry was a sham. “It didn’t help Janesville,” he said. “They shut our plant down. It didn’t help Kenosha. I represent there; they shut down the Chrysler plant.”
Ryan also contended that the high price of gas under the Obama administration was a contributing factor to the closing of the plant.
In fact, Obama made no such promise when he visited Wisconsin on the campaign trail. What he did say, according to the Detroit News, was that a government partnership with the automakers could keep the plant open but made no promises to that effect.
Obama said, “I believe if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years.”
However, the financial crisis that hit during the end of the Bush presidency, coupled with a drastic drop in demand for the SUVs produced at the factory, caused the plant to close in December 2008. It is still owned by General Motors but has never been reopened.
Ryan was one of the few Republicans who cast a yes vote for a 2008 measure signed by President Bush in trying to prevent the auto industry from failing. The Republican vote was 150 against and 32 for the Bush measure, those mostly in auto industry dependent districts accounting for the few yes votes. Ryan claims he voted for the Bush bailout to prevent a worse bailout, citing his fear that the president would use TARP money if Congress didn’t designate specific funds to go to the failing auto industry.
President Obama used the time given by the Bush plan to form his 2009 rescue, a move hailed by industry leaders as the beginning of a resounding success and is one of the central themes of the Obama re-election campaign.
Recognizing the success of the auto industry rescue, Mitt Romey, who wrote an OpEd in the New York Times titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”, is now hinting that he would have done much the same thing and has intimated that President Obama took his advice. In trying to cast a shadow on Obama’s achievement, Romney is now attacking the president for failing to aid car dealers, a risky move in places like Ohio, where more Ohioans have jobs at car dealerships than before the auto bailout.
The Obama auto industry bailout: Sham or success? According to Ryan, a failure. According to Romney a success but one that could have gone farther. It seems the Republican candidates are on different pages. Again.