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Paul Ryan Was Right on Obama’s GM Plant Abandonment

Posted By Joseph Klein On September 4, 2012 @ 12:52 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 38 Comments

The Obama spin machine, which includes much of the mainstream press, is shadowboxing against its own false rendition of what Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for Vice President, actually said about the closing of the GM plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. According to the Obama campaign and its allies, Ryan falsely accused the Obama administration of being responsible for the closing, when GM had already made the decision to close the plant in December 2008, and let go most of its workers, before the Obama presidency even began.

The trouble is that Ryan never claimed in his acceptance speech that the Janesville plant closed on Obama’s watch, even though in point of fact it technically did.  Cars were still being produced there during the spring of 2009.  Ryan’s point was that the Obama campaign had demagogued the anticipated closing and made a promise to keep the plant open with government help – a promise President Obama bailed out on after taking office.

Obama said on February 13, 2008, during a visit to the Janesville plant: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.”

In October 2008, Obama commented on GM’s announced intention to wind down production at Janesville and close the plant altogether by 2010:

Reports that the GM plant I visited in Janesville may shut down sooner than expected are a painful reminder of the tough economic times facing working families across this country…As president, I will lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville so we can build the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow and create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin and all across America.

Here is where things get interesting and demonstrate that Obama reneged on his campaign promise, just as Ryan had said. The Janesville plant remained on stand-by status and was being considered for use in producing the “small car of the future” according to a GM press release issued in June 2009 – well after Obama had taken office.

In fact, as recently as September 2011 the Janesville plant was still ready to be put back into use for production of cars if demand warranted, according to GM.

In other words, Obama still had a chance to make good on his campaign promise to “lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville” and ended up abandoning Janesville instead.

With GM being really Government Motors after the Obama bailout (for which U.S. taxpayers are still on the hook for many billions of dollars), why didn’t Obama keep his campaign promise and see to it that the Janesville plant went from stand-by to actual small car production and thereby keep it open?  Because he’ll say anything during the campaign and then do nothing to follow through when he had the power to do so. Obama’s so-called GM bailout and green energy policies, including government incentives for cars of the future such as the failed Chevrolet Volt,  have not saved the Janesville plant, Obama’s campaign promises to the contrary.

If anything, Paul Ryan was too easy on Obama.

As for the GM bailout as a whole, after an initial burst of optimism, it is not looking so good.  GM could have gone through normal bankruptcy and restructured without the payoff to the unions and other wasted taxpayer money to the tune of about $70 billion.  As it is, GM’s stock is trading about 40% below its IPO price of $33, where the stock opened on November 17, 2010. Quarterly earnings growth year-to-year  is also down nearly 40%.  By comparison, Toyota’s quarterly earnings growth jumped by 25%.

GM is losing market share. According to Forbes:  “For the first 7 months of 2012, their market share was 18.0%, down from 20.0% for the same period in 2011. With a loss of market share comes a loss of relative cost-competitiveness.  There is only so much market share that GM can lose before it would no longer have the resources to attempt to recover.”

With all of the infusion of taxpayers’ money, the Obama GM bailout – which missed the Janesville plant altogether – is pumping air into a flat tire that still has some holes.  According to one analysis of GM’s precarious financial state:

The company’s financial situation has not improved since the end of 2011 and it remains well in the danger zone for facing future bankruptcy, as the company’s post-bailout reorganization appears to have been inadequate to really restore the company to good health.

The Obama campaign owes Paul Ryan an apology for wrongly accusing him of doing what the Obama campaign itself regularly does – lie to the American people. Obama reneged on his campaign promise to “lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville” and he has squandered billions of dollars on a government “bailout” of GM that he falsely represents as a success.

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