Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States thanks in large part to the fact that Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Wisconsin all turned red on election night, wiping out a blue wall of Democratic states.
There is great irony here. These five states greatly benefitted from the auto industry bailout of 2009 – the one orchestrated by President Barack Obama’s administration, with the full support of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s rival in this election.
What the Obama administration did for auto industry jobs seven years ago was quantified by the Center for Automotive Research. If General Motors and the then-Chrysler had been allowed to go through a standard bankruptcy procedure at a time when credit markets were frozen, the worst-case scenario could have seen Michigan lose 338,000 jobs over two years. Pennsylvania could have lost 49,000 jobs; Ohio, 201,000 lost jobs; and Wisconsin, 44,000 lost jobs.
By saving the auto industry from liquidation, Obama’s administration preserved more than 600,000 jobs in states that voted for Trump – whose own position on the bailout is complicated at best.
Complicated? In 2008, Trump told Fox News, “You cannot lose the auto companies. They’re great.” So he was in favor of the bailout.
Then last year, just weeks after becoming a presidential candidate, Trump told an audience in Michigan, “You could have let it go, and rebuilt itself [sic], through the free enterprise system. You could have let it go bankrupt, frankly, and rebuilt itself, and a lot of people felt it should happen. Or you could have done it the way it went. I could have done it either way. Either way would have been acceptable. I think you would have wound up in the same place.”
Steve Rattner, Obama’s so-called car czar, says otherwise and he should know. In several interviews, he has pointed out that “There were no credit markets that were functioning (in 2009). In an absence of help form the government, the companies would have just closed their doors.”
A 2011 report from the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel agreed: “There is little doubt that in the absence of massive government assistance, GM, Chrysler, and GMAC/Ally Financial faced the prospect of bankruptcies and potential liquidation, given the apparent dearth of available financing from the private sector.”
Without Obama, the U.S. auto industry might have been liquidated entirely, or at the very least suffered through a dramatic restructuring that would have wiped out hundreds of thousands of jobs. And while it’s true that Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) have expanded outside of the so-called U.S. “Rust Belt,” all three continue to employ tens of thousands of workers in the states that went for Trump on Tuesday night.
We know what President Obama did for the auto industry and its workers – the jobs saved, the lives improved.
And President Trump? How many jobs will he save and how will he better the lives of those who voted for him, and not for Obama’s favored candidate, Hillary Clinton, a member of the Cabinet that chose to rescue an auto industry on life support?