Today at a rally with the United Auto Workers President Obama forcefully defended his record on the auto bailout, while criticizing his Republican opponents for their seemingly shifting positions. The president’s remarks immediately garnered on Twitter, with many comparing the passion of President Obama’s address to the kind of zeal of he showed during the 2008 campaign. A video of the most energized part of the speech can be seen to the left. A summary appears below.
President Obama claimed that Republicans are now trying to “rewrite” history when the auto bailout worked. After suffering through years of losses and nearly collapsing in 2009, the major American auto companies are now posting large profits and hiring more workers. Of the $50 billion originally invested in the car companies $22 billion has already been paid back in the first two years, and the government could actually make a profit depending if the stock price of the car companies continues to go up.
After originally opposing the auto bailout, Republican candidates have since adjusted their position. In 2009 Mitt Romney penned an op-ed piece arguing the administration should “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” In 2012 Romney has said that he would have put the companies through a managed bankruptcy that essentially would have accomplished the same goal as the auto bailout.
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have attacked the auto bailouts as a payback to the unions. However, as Obama notes in his speech, the unions gave up a number of contractually-guaranteed rights as part of the bailout process. Over 700,000 retirees gave up pension benefits. Union workers agreed to less hours and with it less pay. The unions also agreed to shoulder more of their health care premium costs.
The President then took direct aim at the Romney and Santorum’s recent focus on value-based issues with the following lengthy attack,
“You want to talk about values? Hard work — that’s a value. Looking out for one another — that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together — that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper — that is a value. But they’re still talking about you as if you’re some greedy special interest that needs to be beaten. Since when are hardworking men and women special interests? Since when is the idea that we look out for each other a bad thing?”