Reid swipes at Romney over auto bailout


On the day that Michigan Republicans head to the polls in the state primary,  Sen. Harry Reid today took a not-so-veiled swipe at presidential contender Mitt Romney over the auto bailout.

Reid in a Senate speech did not mention Romney by name but there was no mistaking the target.  The Senate majority leader quoted from an opinion piece Romney wrote for the New York Times in 2008 that was headlined "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

    "One man seeking the Republican nomination for president said we should 'kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.' He called the death of American auto manufacturers 'virtually guaranteed.' And he argued we should let Detroit go bankrupt," Reid  said. 

    "We all get one wrong occasionally," Reid said. "The test of character is admitting when we make a mistake.""

    The U.S. government in January 2009 made $25 billion in loans  to General Motors and Chrysler, which helped steer them through bankruptcy reorganizations in the months ahead.   The move came amidst hot debate whether it would be throwing good money after bad to rescue what was considered an inefficient industry, and whether the government should get that deeply involved as a matter of principle.

    There were splits in both parties on the bailout. Democrats generally were supportive while Republicans expressed stronger reservations.
Today, Reid engaged in a bit of I-told-you-so.

"There was no way Democrats would walk away from millions of Americans whose jobs were on the line – Americans who work in dealerships and distribution centers and manufacturing plants across the country," he said.  "The verdict is in – we were right to fight."

"The American auto industry has added 160,000 jobs over the last two years. Last year General Motors reported record profits and sold more vehicles than any other car company in the world. Chrysler is profitable again, and growing faster in the U.S. than any other major automaker."

"So when a Republican presidential frontrunner said we should 'kiss the American automotive industry goodbye,' he couldn’t have been more wrong," Reid said.

During a debate in Arizona last week, Romney defended his 2008 stance, saying while he opposed government intervention, he would not have let GM and Chrysler "totally implode and disappear."  Experts have said that would have been difficult for him to accomplish.

Reid delivered his remarks around the same time President Barack Obama carried the same message to a United Auto Workers conference in Washington.

“I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these politicians completely try to rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet,” Obama told the workers. “The same folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, ‘You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.’ Now they’re saying we were right all along."

During a debate in Arizona last week, Romney defended his 2008 stance, saying while he opposed government intervention, he would not have let GM and Chrysler "totally implode and disappear."  Experts have said that would have been difficult for him to accomplish.

As for Reid, it was the second day in a row the Senate majority leader showed some knuckles to Romney.  In a conference call with reporters on Monday Reid blasted the presidential contender for accepting endorsements from immigration "extremists."

Reid singled out Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed a get-tough state law last year, and Kurt Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who helped draft restrictive immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama.