Auto bailout could be key to Obama victory in Ohio

President Barack Obama's decision to help America's automakers could end up being what helps drive him back into the White House.
Associated Press
Oct 24, 2012

Some 850,000 jobs in this critical battleground state are tied to autos and Obama's campaign constantly reminds voters they'd be jobless if not for the decision to inject taxpayer dollars into General Motors and Chrysler. However, the move has not translated into automatic support for the president, even in areas that depend on the industry. Republican Mitt Romney also is pitching these voters hard with his message that Obama hasn't balanced Washington's checkbook the same way voters must.

One in eight jobs in Ohio can be linked to the auto industry — whether it's working on a factory floor or selling groceries to plant workers. The presidential race's outcome could boil down to whether voters interpret Obama's move as saving Detroit or bailing it out. But like other flashpoints in this rough campaign, there is little middle ground between the versions of events and what it means for voters' neighbors.

"I couldn't imagine what Lordstown would be," said Brian Axiotis, a 37-year-old Obama supporter who works in information technology and lives in nearby Newton Falls. "A lot of folks would lose their houses. Consider the mess that would have resulted. It'd be a ghost town all over the area."

Since its restructuring, the General Motors plant in this town of 4,000 people southeast of Cleveland has added a third shift — and 1,200 new workers with it — to produce the popular compact Chevy Cruze. GM has pledged $220 million in updates to the factory and to keep the 4,500 workers, suggesting this town in the former steel-heavy Mahoning Valley has some stability ahead.

Romney volunteer Frank Perrotta still finds Obama's decision to loan automakers billions a misuse of public dollars. Between calls to voters at Romney's office in Stow, he shakes his head when talking about the government's move to prevent the collapse of GM and Chrysler. The bailout began in 2008 under Republican George W. Bush and Obama extended it.

"I have to run my business responsibly. No one is coming to bail me out if I get into trouble," said Perrotta, a 63-year-old Hudson resident who runs a medical imaging business that employs nine workers. "The bailout was just not fair."

Romney opposed using government money to save the car companies in a 2008 op-ed piece in The New York Times, titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." Romney preferred a managed bankruptcy, without federal money, and has maintained the rescue was unfair, unnecessary and political payback to labor unions.

"If we had taken your advice, Gov. Romney, about our auto industry, we'd be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China," Obama said in Monday's presidential debate.

His statement sparked one of the most contentious moments of the evening, with the two interrupting and arguing over one another about what impact Romney's idea would have had. "I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry," Romney said, touting his affection for American cars, his Detroit roots and his father's leadership of American Motors Corp.

Obama insisted Romney was "trying to airbrush history" and suggested voters should check the record.

While GM paid back its loan and the government took an ownership stake, the Treasury Department estimates Washington might lose about $25.1 billion on its investment. It smacks of government waste for its critics.

"They should've followed the bankruptcy process that applies to the rest of us who don't have union bosses for friends. They bailed out their buddies," said Loretta Hurite, a 74-year-old Romney supporter from Cuyahoga Falls working the phones in Stow.

And so it continues through the state, where polls are close and both campaigns are in overdrive. No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio, and John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign was the last Democratic effort to win the presidency without it. Voters here are bombarded with campaign ads and candidate visits, mail at the ends of their driveways and phone calls at all hours.

Obama's allies never hesitate to raise the bailout in visits to the state. "Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive," Vice President Joe Biden roars at rallies, always a sure-fire applause generator.

Obama's team even has former President Bill Clinton making the point.

"It's important to remember than one in eight jobs in the state of Ohio is tied to the auto industry," Clinton told voters in Parma last week. "When you were down and you were out, the president had your back. Now, you've got to have his."

Not so fast, says Dennis Muniak, a 60-year-old Parma resident who attended the Clinton rally near Cleveland.

"Seven out of eight jobs aren't auto jobs," countered Muniak, who is drawing disability benefits.

Back in Trumbull County's city of Warren, just across the railroad tracks from the Lordstown plant, General Motors retiree George Vukovich cast his ballot early for Obama.

"In this valley, we are autos. Obama took care of us. He kept his promise. Now, we have to have his back," the 61-year-old Vukovich said before acknowledging the auto industry's heyday might be in its past.

Across the street from the early voting site, weeds are growing high at a car audio shop that has shut its doors. A retail plaza next door is vacant.

"We were lucky. We worked through the glory days of the 1970s, '80s and '90s," Vukovich said. "Those days are over. But I have great insurance and I have a great retirement."

Thanks to the taxpayers, Chuck Wirebaugh clucks.

"Obama sold out to the auto unions. GM would be better off had it gone through bankruptcy like everyone else has to. Instead, they got special treatment and a sweetheart bailout," the 69-year-old retiree from Cortland said after he cast his ballot early for Romney.

"Obama shouldn't have the job," Wirebaugh said. "He should be a used car salesman. It's about the only thing he's qualified to be."



the office cat

Namecalling again. Read his plan for the next four years. And then tell us, at last, WHAT entitlement programs he wants to 'ramp up'. Republicans like to throw about that term 'entitlement' like something bad. But gosh darn it (that's for the Moderator) I've spent 50 years payin' SS taxes and all 47 payin' Medicare. You betcha I'm 'entitled'. Same goes for VA benefits - which Paul Ryan has budgeted to cut. Obama's plan includes reordering and revamping many government programs. The only BIG cuts the Republicans have made are in education - where people LEARN to do the work. Smart, huh?


just so we are clear putty tat. i have never said that social security or medicare is an "entitlement" program. if you have a legit disability that is one thing and acceptable in my opinion. however, ss disability is as corrupt as this current administration which is extremely high. cell phones for people??? please tell me why they should be "entitled" to a cell phone! i know you will say for emergency purposes. great! get them a cell that only dials 911 or get them life alert. why should my tax dollars go towards people getting free phones that can call or text? i can give many "entitlements" that are uncalled for. but, as i stated before, prezo has enslaved these people to him. they will do whatever he wants them to do because he feeds them. it makes me sick that people don't/won't/can't take responsibility for themselves any longer!!

John Harville

@Mikel. When YOU use the term 'entitlement' you are in Republicanspeak mode since Romney, Ryan, Perry, Gingrich, etc ad nauseum include SS and Medicare in 'entitlements' they want to gut, change or turn into voucher programs. And you throw in SSDI and call it corrupt "as this current administration..." From what I know, SSDI is so difficult to obtain that it takes 2-6 years after the disability to get approval. If there be any corruption in it, that corruption would be that it is so difficult and complex that attorneys take up to 40% of the benefit to take a case to court.
As for the cellphones - a program around under Bush - many people have them for seeking work as often the only chance for an interview comes via telephone. Calling/textiing is not unlimited. Many are used by older Americans who no longer can afford a landline or other home phone but still need to be checked on daily by family AND who still need to make doctor appointments and schedule rides to the appointments AND who need to call in prescriptions for delivery AND... oh well.


@ John Harville:

"Entitlements"? You're hung up on semantics.

There are no trust funds for SS or Medicare, they are pay-go Ponzi scams.

The money goes in, the money goes out.


@ the office cat:

It read like Simpson-Bowles or TRA86. When's Mr. Obama gonna come around and quit being a one note "tax the rich" Charlie?

John Harville

@Contango... Paul Ryan - who was on (?) the Commission, voted against Simpson-Bowles but now critizes Mr. Obama for not following it.


@ John Harville:

Mr. Obama commissioned it and then dropped the ball.

Mr. Obama has no idea how to negotiate.

"Eric...don't call my bluff."


‘What’s happening in this room confirms what everybody across the country thinks about Washington, D.C.,’” the official said. “Which is that people are more interested in protecting their base and political positioning than solving problems.” Obama

No one in this country has any doubt about what happened.


You people crack me up. Too funny with all your links! It has to be true if it is on the internet...right? LOL!


@ deertracker:

So since you're writing on the Internet, I shouldn't believe anything you write?


I would believe what he writes as a self-thinking individual more than I would what you write, which is mostly links to republican speakers or cut-and-paste from republican speeches - which are actually edited to completely change the context of what was said in the first place - oh wait - that was Hannity and Beck who does that all the time.

the office cat

If you have any doubt who's winning Ohio - and the Electoral College - and the country...just read all the political blogs here.


@ the office cat:

If Mr. Obama wins, the odds are that Congress will remain status quo - pretty much nothing changes.

Should be a fun two yrs. eh?


Hmm sounds like the last election of 2010 - if Obama wins - let's stop him from doing anything - that iwll teach america. Some plan - republicans are not out to HELP people, just keep democrats from getting anything accomplished.

John Harville

@Contango If Senate candidates keep 'legitimizing' rape and attributing it to God and calling rape "just another form of conception"...


Have been very fortunate to experience many things in my life so far. Also having many relatives & friends directly involved with many things one tends to get educated by life. When you create & walk independent, life experiences can be huge. Many here by their own admission got great jobs & retired. Many here never knew war, ups & downs of America's economy, etc. Good for them.


@Star: You really need to research the TARP and auto bailout. Pensions where lost to hedge fund liquidation and blackmail. Romney benefited from the liquidation and earned millions from pensions.


Thanks Eriemom, that's exactly what I have been trying to tell them, but they don't listen. They don't like to hear anything that isn't reported on FOX or if Rush and Hannity doesn't say it - it isn't true.

Mr. D

@eriemom. . . Read your posts about the hedgefunders and their threats to shut the auto industry down. . . Was a good read. . ,so sad these teatard jabberers won't read about it. . . Mitt is still their idol. . . So sad!!!

Finn Finn

E-mails, which have now become public, clearly show Obama Administration officials, Geithner chief among them, urging senior GM officials to gut pensions for salaried non-union employees in order to speed up GM's emergence from bankruptcy. These people got screwed, with the urging of the Obama administration. Let's not pretend otherwise.

John Harville

FINNFINNFINNFINNFINN...source for your post?
Bain Capital moved Delphi to China and made millions in the process. - Fox News. Let's not pretend otherwise.


@ John Harville:

So what Wall St. firm do you think that "Turbo Timmy" will run to after his time is up at the WH?

Delphi is a worldwide co. HQ'd in Troy MI.


Delphi is HQ in Troy - but what does that have to do with their closing a bunch of plants and moving them to China??? You think because a company has an office here everyting is ok? They why the crap about Jeep and GM then? Their offices are here. And that pretty much validates the fact that most of Romney's campaign material and products are made in China - of course HIS office is in the USA so it's ok. On that line of thinking - stop picking on Walmart - their HQ is also in the US.


Yes, they did, but place the blame where it belongs. Go back to what caused the Geithner emails. Keep in mind that parts were not being shipped to the assembly plants by the time Geithner got involved to move the process along.

Mr. Romney's more recent statements (read-not true) about providing government bridge loans to the big three would have done nothing to keep parts moving from smaller companies. His interest was to protect stock holders and not jobs. He is anti-union and none of us should forget that, as we did when Gov. Kasick was elected.


@ Mr. D:

So why do public employee pension trusts invest billions of dollars worth of assets into hedge funds and private equity firms?

GM is on life-support and Chrysler is owned by a failing Italian auto co.

Some "save."

Mr. D

Tango, they invest in such things because the the fund trusts are managed by investment companies. Public employees have little or no say in where the fund is invested or why. Kind of like with your bank acct or your annuity, you know its there, but you dont know where its invested. Do you understand now?


@ Mr. D:

So is it your position that if public employees had a say over where their assets were invested that they would not put them in hedge funds or private equity firms?

You had better look up public employee pension trusts like Calpers, Calsters, SERS and PERS and see who controls their investment decisions.

Let me help educate you with the largest one in the world:


Funny that you keep bringing this up. These pensions lost a lot money during the meltdown. The whole thing makes Social Security a pretty good option in comparison.


Yeah, you're right Gardenman. Saw an article in a large city newspaper today telling how Obama forced abortions down Catholics throats. That's funny, I thought that Roe vs. Wade was on the lawbooks for about 40 years before Obama took office.

You're also right about Ryan. His budget plan ALSO includes the $716 billion of "cuts" in Medicare that Obama's does, yet he brings it up on every campaign stop. Never mind that it's not actually a cut in anyone's coverage, but rather a savings to taxpayers... Never mind that it's HIS plan to turn Medicare into a pay-as-you-go Voucher system. He is a snake in the classic Dick Cheney mold.

Colin Powell, an avowed Republican, is backing Obama. He cites the evidence that the economy is improving, and says that Romney clearly hasn't done his homework, with regards to foreign policy.

What bothers me is that Romney STILL hasn't given any credible statistics to show how he could possibly cut the deficit. He plans to further cut income/revenue, but plans to renew the Bush tax cuts to the rich, while expanding defense spending by $2 trillion. The math is easy: if you cut income and increase spending, you can't address the deficit.

The above problems are just at the federal level. Individual middle-class Americans will feel the pinch right in their pocketbook because Mitt is on record promising that he will do away with home mortgage tax deductions and college loan deductions on our federal taxes. He also plans to cut funding for college Pell grants. Overnight, these policies will take at least $3000 out of my pocket next year. It'll be the same for all of us, unless you're in Mitt's Lucky 1% Club.

It's not too late to wake up and take Romney at his word, that he will do the abovementioned things he promised to do during the GOP primaries are the real Romney. Regardless of whether you think Obama is the answer, it's quite obvious that Romney is NOT the answer. Romney's economic plan, what little he has divulged, is obviously a carbon copy of George W. Bush's. Regardless of what you think of Obama, does anyone really want to go back to 2007-2008? See kids, THAT is the "change" that Romney will bring.

If you have 2 minutes, check out a video on YouTube: do a search for "The Romney Presidency: A (Plausible) Look Back"


Plausible, you say?
having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable: a plausible excuse; a plausible plot.
well-spoken and apparently, but often deceptively, worthy of confidence or trust: a plausible commentator.

having an "appearance" of truth.."seeming"
"but often deceptively"