Romney's Lies to Auto Workers Show He Doesn't Get the Modern World

Categories: Schutze

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So here we are at the door to election day. In the nation it all comes down to Ohio. In Ohio it all comes down to the auto industry. And Mitt Romney is betting his marbles on TV ads that say he's the one who wanted to save the industry and President Obama's the one shipping jobs to China.

Man. As a former black-tagger -- that's a term for migrating Michiganders, sort of like Okie -- this moment is freighted with irony. I can't believe auto workers are important again.

I moved to the Sun Belt from Detroit in 1978. I worked in the car plants as a young man off and on during a five-year stretch when I was a member of the United Auto Workers. But I was kind of a bogus member, not the real stuff. I was working my way through college. You get it.

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Jim and his siblings and/or cousins load up the family wagon for their move south.
When I moved here, the term Rust Belt was new. The auto industry had a terrible name, richly deserved. In his seminal 1973 book The Company and the Union, Bill Serrin, then a fellow reporter of mine at the Detroit Free Press, now at NYU, showed how car company management and the UAW joined hands to form a lazy, arrogant monopoly that cranked out crappy cars and bet all its own marbles on protectionism.

A decade earlier, Mitt Romney's father, George, was Detroit's outlier, running American Motors, the only Detroit car company whose strategy for meeting the competitive threat of small foreign cars was to build better small American cars. By the time I became a black-tagger in the late '70s, you could have made a good argument that Detroit auto workers would never have been forced to become black-taggers if Detroit had followed the American Motors model.

Well, I was kind of a bogus black-tagger. I was a newspaper reporter by then, not an auto worker. You get it.

But I felt their pain. State of Michigan automobile license plates back then were black. On talk-radio in Dallas people complained about the hordes of black-taggers on the freeway in their ramshackle station-wagons loaded up like Steinbeckian refugees.

The thing is, the world is now an entirely different landscape. The auto industry has become globalized. The UAW is the second-biggest shareholder in Chrysler. And Romney is talking to autoworkers like they're still a bunch of economic refugees who don't know how the world works.

His latest ad blitz in Ohio was launched by Romney himself who told an audience that Jeep, a big Ohio producer, is "... thinking of moving all production to China." That remark was buttressed by TV ads saying President Obama "sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China."

The ads kind of danced around the truth a little better than Romney himself did, but the basic argument is a lie, according to Chrysler, the owners of Jeep. Chrysler, in fact, has gone to extraordinary lengths to prove the Romney line is a lie, even calling it, "a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats." Chrysler has said that, far from moving production out of Ohio and into China, it is about to expand its Ohio production.

But, wait. There are some wrinkles. Apparently Jeep is also planning to revive some Chinese production that got shut down back during the bankruptcy. China maintains such high tariff walls against American cars that cars built here can't compete over there. The only way to get into that market is for foreign companies to partner with Chinese companies and build the cars over there.

The Romney campaign has countered that reviving Chinese production will create auto jobs in China that could have been created here. Therefore American autoworkers are getting screwed.

But American autoworkers aren't a bunch of black-tagger refugees any more. This is a new generation in a new world. They own 41.5 percent of Chrysler. They know how things work. They know that they benefit as owners of the company if the company finds a way to make money in China -- money that would otherwise be left on the table.

There's something enormously retro about the whole Romney appeal to the autoworkers. The auto workers know how the bankruptcy worked. They know the Romney solution would have shipped the entire industry off-shore. They also remember the legacy of too much protection and of companies and unions that think they don't have to compete globally. Life's complicated.

Even if the Romney appeal really is not aimed at auto workers, even if it's really aimed at non-union workers who are jealous of the auto-workers, it still depends on people not knowing how the world works. I just don't think that's the world we live in any more.

Hey, guess what else? I just found a vintage black Michigan auto license plate on eBay. I think I'm going to get it and turn it into a hood ornament.


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67 comments
ceepee
ceepee

Realy, you don't think that's the world we live in any more? Politicians are still getting people to vote for them on the belief that a rape victim can prevent pregnancy by sheer willpower or some damn thing, people who get elected to oversee education curricula want science teachers to teach some "theory" of creation, and some states are still voting on civil rights issues, as if civil rights should ever be up for a vote. Do NOT underestimate the power of ignorance.

Edward
Edward

It's almost insane for anyone to believe that letting GM and Chrysler go bankrupt would have been a good thing. The decimation of jobs would have been monumental - and it's not just the jobs of the employees at those companies, but also all of those in the supply chain. 

 

The Republicans are upset because 1) it worked, and 2) the beneficiaries were actual workers (the 99%) instead of the 1%.

 

With Sandy working it's way along the east coast, I think it adds all of those folks to the group of people I think would be crazy to vote Republican: women and auto workers. The Republican party and Romney want to eliminate FEMA (Ryan and his group have been cutting it already every chance they get) and just let victims or natural disasters fend for themselves. 

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

That doesn't sound like a lie to me. It sounds like a lie to me when they trot out a general that tells me a milk processing facility is a nuclear research plant. It sounds like a lie to me when the President tells me (over and over and over) that a sustained September 11th assault on our embassy in Libya is the result of a Youtube video. Don't bother me with the flight patterns of gnats when the government is trying to shove camels down my throat.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Mitt Romney In GOP Debate: "Shut down Federal Disaster Agency, send responsibility to the states."

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

BTW, when Romney, earlier this year, called for an end to FEMA and suggested that the states should deal with their own natural disasters, was he lying?

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

Watching all the Righties trying to defend Mitt's ad reminds me of this 90's nugget,  "Jerry, just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it." You bunch of brain dead mother f@#kers.   lol

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

At least we know Romney doesn't lie when he says he has no concern for 47% of Americans.  

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

"I can't believe auto workers are important again."

 

Well, Jim, think about why that is.  It's because the Democrats have so bungled the economy and everything else that this administration has touched that Michigan is up for grabs.  

 

Michigan could give its electoral votes to a Republican.  That's how bad Obama, Reid and Pelosi have fucked things up.  That's why auto workers are important again -- they are starting to vote Republican.

Glenn
Glenn

Jim, if it's true that Jeeps for Chinese customers that once were built in the U.S. now are going to be built in China instead--and it is--then Romney's ad is perfectly valid. Certainly just as valid as the Democratic crap about dogs-on-a-roof, evil private-equity barons, etc. etc.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Fiat owns 61%.  

 

The only lie here is in the headline.

daniellocke777
daniellocke777

Ohio will stand with the president because the president stood with us.

 

Tough luck, Romney.  We can spot a bullshitter a mile away.

GaryMcDonnell
GaryMcDonnell

 @ceepee That's an incredibly accurate and depressing description of today's far right politicians. Unfortunately it's nothing new. They've believed this sort of nonsense for as long as they've been around. What's changed is that somehow this sort of fringe thinking has gotten more acceptable.

 

These folks seem to want to reverse social progress. Hopefully time and demographics will prevent that.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @ceepee Good point, but you scare me.

Ricky_Hollywood
Ricky_Hollywood

 @everlastingphelps ok, I'll bite.  Explain to me how "the Democrats have so bungled the economy and everything else."  Seriously, explain it.

thefncrow
thefncrow

 @everlastingphelps Have you actually looked at a Michigan poll lately?  Michigan is in absolutely no danger of voting GOP this year.  The focus on the auto industry is much more about reaching out to voters in Ohio, where you have a number of manufacturing jobs that are dependent upon producing products that are sold to the auto manufacturers.  Let Detroit Go Bankrupt, like Romney suggested, and all those Ohio manufacturing jobs are hit because they no longer have clients to sell their goods to.

thefncrow
thefncrow

 @Glenn Except that's patently not the case.  The vehicle production for the Chinese market was taking place in China.  That Chinese production shut down during the bankruptcy and Chrysler exited the Chinese market as a result.  Now that things are going better for them, they're going to re-open that factory in China to produce vehicles for the Chinese market once again.

 

Producing the vehicles for the Chinese market in the US was not and has never been an option on the table, because China's trade policy would mean that any such vehicles built here and transported over there would be made too expensive for the market and thus wouldn't sell.  The option isn't to make vehicles for China in America or to make vehicles for China in China, the option is to make vehicles for China in China or not make vehicles for China.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Oh, and the employees don't own the other 38% -- the UNION does.  Huge difference.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @everlastingphelps  @GuitarPlayer so, you're saying that Jeep intends to shut down their domestic plants, move those facilities to China and export from there?   Cause that's not true, Phelps.

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

 @everlastingphelps Yeah Phelps. Have the decency to use upper case icons.....you F@#king idiot motherf*&ker.....

 

 

 

 

 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @Ricky_Hollywood Stimulus, QE after QE, no budget passed for three years, Excessive regulation by alphabet soup agencies, regulatory uncertainty killing hiring, and obamacare killing hiring as the coup de grace.

Glenn
Glenn

 @thefncrow OK. Then how do you explain this story from the China Daily newspaper in early January of 2011:

 

DETROIT, Michigan - Chrysler has its eye on China and is counting on its iconic Jeep brand to boost global sales and help return the US automaker to profitability after a government-backed bankruptcy.

The first boatload of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee exported from Detroit is expected to reach China soon and Chrysler is also preparing to expand sales in South America, Eastern Europe and Russia, officials said.

 

The same story goes on to say that Chrysler/Jeep sales "surged" in China in 2010. So, where did these cars come from?

mcdallas
mcdallas

 @everlastingphelps I was just about to say the same thing, when I saw your comment.  There is a massive difference between the UNION owning a company and the actual EMPLOYEES owning the company.  I would like to think that someone "from there" would distinguish between the two...

Ricky_Hollywood
Ricky_Hollywood

 @scottindallas  @everlastingphelps  @GuitarPlayer Of course it's not true, scott.  But all the right does is yell, "JEEBUS, MURIKA!" while providing absolutely no proof for anything they say.  If you try to reason or dispute their claims, you are an elitist,, socialist who hates Murika.  Well, I am proud of my education and of my ability to think critically.  If they want to be lied to and treated like sheep, let them.  They will be mostly dead in 20 - 30 years anyway.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @GuitarPlayer  @everlastingphelps why cant you type mother fucker without all the @# shit in it.  Its not like there are a bunch of 12 year olds reading this, though same may act 12

Mr_Hand
Mr_Hand

 @everlastingphelps  @Ricky_Hollywood

Add, credit downgrade, sequestered cuts...I heard this the other day and got a good laugh.  "If Obama wins, can you imagine the economy he is going to inherit?"

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @everlastingphelps  @Joejoethedogfaceboy  @thefncrow "Michigan is in play.  Both candidates are spending on TV ads there.  You don't spend on TV ads in states that aren't competitive."  Watch where the candidates ARE, not where they advertise.  And, Romney has money to burn, so, he's doing it.  Pump and dump Romney has suckered you in, he hasn't created a profitable business; but he knows the GOP economic model, borrow, borrow, borrow, then leave--and wonder why the inheritors couldn't keep things rolling, and blame them when the Chickens come home to roost.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

@everlastingphelps Well let me think a little. Do I tend to believe the cherry picked poll from an extreme right wing radical, or do I give greater weight to an expert on the subject, who has analyzed polls for years, and reviews every credible poll being taken? This is a hard one. I think I'll let the free market handle this one and see how Romney is doing at Entrade.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Everlasting Phlops, again.  Michigan and Ohio are in Obama's column precisely because he saved the auto industry, while Romney was prepared to see it fail.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @Joejoethedogfaceboy  @thefncrow Sorry, but the NYT and Silver are no longer credible news sources.  Drill down into the data and you see that the highest weighted poll says "Obama +0.4" (which is within the MoE) yet he throws a bunch of other shit (even a bullshit internet YouGov poll with Obama +10) to pull it back the way he wants.

 

Michigan is in play.  Both candidates are spending on TV ads there.  You don't spend on TV ads in states that aren't competitive.  (That's why you don't see any ads for either one here.)

thefncrow
thefncrow

 @everlastingphelps The 5 most recent non-internet polls of Michigan are:

Tie

Obama +6

Obama +7

Obama +3

Obama +4

 

All of those polls are post-debate #1, so the momentum from that debate changing the race in MI is off the table.  So, what's more likely, that the poll showing a tie is an outlier, or that Romney has just suddenly closed a 6-7 point gap in a week?

Glenn
Glenn

 @thefncrow Jim, since there's only radio silence from thefncrow on this, can you answer the question? You also called Romney's Chinese-production argument a "lie." So, where were the Jeeps built that were sold in China in 2010 and 2011? China Daily above says those headed to China early last year were "exported from Detroit." What say you?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @everlastingphelps  @thefncrow  @Glenn how you gonna fight Chinese tariffs?  By launching a trade war with our banker?  By raising costs on the middle class?  You realize that these matters are limited by our treaties. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @TheCredibleHulk  @thefncrow  @Glenn I directly answered your question?  "Is ABCD the best way to resolve the discrepancy?"  No.  Regime change is the BEST way.  It's also the least feasible.  

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

 @everlastingphelps  @thefncrow  @Glenn Way to avoid the issue.

 

Fine, then. The other question still stands: Do you contend that labeling them manipulators and imposing the tariffs is the best way to resolve the discrepancy, or, do you understand that this is just more empty political rhetoric?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

 @everlastingphelps  @thefncrow  @Glenn Yes? So? It's still just rhetoric until the rubber meets the road.

 

Do you contend that that is the best way to resolve this discrepancy?

 

Why didn't Bush do it? Why didn't Clinton?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @TheCredibleHulk  @thefncrow  @Glenn You're aware that there is a whole raft of sanctions that flow from being officially labeled a currency manipulator, right?  Starting with a minimum 25% tariff imposed by Treasury?

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