Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm delivered a rousing defense of the auto industry bailout Thursday night, totaling up the number of well-paying jobs that were saved by the controversial decision. President Barack Obama, in the spring of 2009, approved an $85 billion package that is widely credited with bringing about a subsequent turnaround.
Obama has been hammered for the decision, so he deserves credit for it now that it's gone well.
But Granholm left out a significant element of the story. During the time between Obama's election and inauguration, he worked closely with President George W. Bush to save the industry. In 2008, Bush announced $17.4 billion in loans to the automakers. Had he not done so, it's unlikely the industry would have made it to Jan. 20th.
"There's too great a risk that bankruptcy now would lead to a disorderly liquidation of american auto companies," Bush said at the time, justifying the bailout.
Giving Bush credit wouldn't have taken away from Obama's accomplishment, and even makes Romney's rejection of the intervention look that much more out of step. But that's not the story Granholm told.
"The entire auto industry, and the lives of over one million hard-working Americans, teetered on the edge of collapse; and with it, the whole manufacturing sector," Granholm said. "We looked everywhere for help. Almost nobody had the guts to help us -– not the banks, not the private investors and not Bain capital. Then, in 2009, the cavalry arrived: our new president, Barack Obama."
Romney's own stance on the bailout will likely hurt him in Midwestern states. Suggesting the troubled automakers go into bankruptcy without government intervention, Romney wrote an op-ed for The New York Times under the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
Democrats have assailed Romney for that position throughout the convention, with speakers like United Auto Workers President Bob King, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Granholm herself reminding viewers that Romney opposed the bailout. Like Granholm, King also made a point of reciting the "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" line.
None of those Democratic speakers, however, mentioned that the auto rescue in fact began under Bush.