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."




I'm not sure that Coasterfan was expecting a grammar lesson from the dictionary - I think a legitimate answer would have been more effective - oh wait - you're a republican - when backed into a corner - change the subject and run.

Darwin's choice

If you have a minute...this is a great endorsement for your guy Coasterfan......

The Big Dog's back

Ever notice how the right wingers (fascists) want the country to be attacked again, they want the economy to crash, they want GM to burn, they want another war (Iran), they cheer terrorist attacks overseas, they want to keep women barefoot and pregnant.


A demagogue calling someone a fascist. Oh, the irony.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat



No, Ford didn't, but would have been affected as well. Did you watch the C-SPAN discussions?


here is what the automotive bail out got us...GM moved factories to china...

John Harville

Careful bully... already been disproved on the factories-to-China gig.


@ John Harville:

If I were you, I'd be more concerned with the solvency of Fiat.

Financially they are in serious trouble in Italy.

Also, in JD Power dependability surveys Chrysler ranks at the bottom.


awesome changed subject again........

Darwin's choice

If you have two minutes, check out this video.......

John Harville

A simple reading of the ENTIRE article about 'Jeep jobs to China' touted by Romney in Defiance last week shows his allegation that Obama will move all Jeep plants to China is... well, we can't say it here.
Bloomberg said Chrysler will EXPAND to China with new plants.
Yet Toledo TV continues to run Romney's ad saying Obama will move the jeeps.


@ John Harville:

And Obama's death panels will order the killing of blue haired grandmothers and Romney wants poor people to starve.

Sort through the garbage and vote for the lesser of two evils or vote for an alternative.

Reads like you've got your mind made up anyway.

All I know is that I'm not votin' for Mr. Obama. Other than that, I'm not sure. Depends on the polls on Nov. 5.


Now, that's typical. Can't think for themselves when posting on a blog (cut and paste all the time) and now can't even make a decision on their own for who to vote for - just let the polls decide. Now, tell me - there are two options on the pools - you said you are not voting for one of them - why do you need to wait on the polls then? Or, are you still thinking if Obama is ahead, you may change your mind? Or is it to see if Romney needs the help and if not, you own't vote at all - just continue to complain for 4 more years.


At least under Romney's bankruptcy plan, GM would have had a chance to sell off or get rid of Opel in W. Germany, a definte money pit losing money daily.


Under Romney's plan pension funds would have been liquidated.


@ eriemom:

Not possible. See: ERISA.

Ned Mandingo

How can auto bailouts that helped save millions of real americans jobs be bad but bailing out wall street criminals is never talked about.
George Bush was president when AIG got the first bailout sept. 2008. All the money AIG received weht to goldman sachs to pay a credit default insurance policy.
And no one cares about Ford not taking a bailout.WE HAVE SEEN THE COMMERICALS TOO. They are not the great american sucess story everyone thinks they are. Many of their vehicles aren't made in America.


Ned, you speak the truth.

Some on here are unaffected by truth.

Back in the 70s, the government helped the railroads, the airlines and EVEN Chrysler.



Under Pres. Carter, Chrysler was supported by a bridge loan. The same method Gov. Romney suggested for GM and Chrysler.

The govt. still owns money losing Amtrak.


@ Ned Mandingo:

The U.S. financial community was on the verge of collapse without TARP. I recall that the Democrats who controlled Congress at the time overwhelmingly supported it.

The auto industry would have continued with a trimmed down GM and Chrysler. They went bankrupt and were slimmed down anyway.

Oops! Bloomberg says that Fiat may move Jeep production to Italy:

Jeep was the only reason that Chrysler bought AMC anyway.

The Big Dog's back

Your chicken little posts aren't worth commenting on.


No, Democrates did not hold the House--purse strings of government.


@ eriemom:

The "Democrats" did not control the House and Senate in 2008 when TARP was passed?

Better check your facts.

The measure failed the first time in the House because the Repubs were not backing it. Speaker Nancy Pelosi railed against them to help the Dems pass it.


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." (Romney)

Post bankruptcy. How does one shed real estate costs. Answer: Move production to other countries. How do you shed pension costs? Answer: Liquidate them.

Flailing in Ohio, Romney rolls out Jeep ploy: editorial
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012, 8:15 PM Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012, 8:15 PM
By The Plain Dealer Editorial Board

"But apparently Romney had been reading a blogger who misunderstood reports that Chrysler was looking to again make some Jeeps in China for that expanding market. The news is a sign of Chrysler's health, not of some sinister intentions by its management. The company is investing $500 million and hiring 1,100 workers at its Toledo Jeep plant. The day Romney misspoke, Chrysler announced plans to add 1,100 employees in Detroit, too. A company spokesman called any suggestion that Chrysler is abandoning its U.S. plants "a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats."



@ eriemom:

Under Obama's bankruptcy and nationalization plan both GM and Chrysler did shed costs.

Japan is a moot point.

Fiat is talking about moving Jeep production to Italy.

Fiat is failing and needs another partner.

So have you bought a new GM or Chrysler recently and helped support 'em?


Do you think you can drop the Jeep BS once and for all? Jeep is not moving US plants to China - period end of discussion. It appears that although Romney is still spouting that crap - he also knows that it was not true. How's that for trying to trick people? Typical politician - lies out one side of the mouth while admitting you were wrong out the other side.