Mitt Romney’s widely debunked claim that GM and Chrysler are moving auto manufacturing jobs to China after being bailed out by President Obama isn’t just dirty politics. The claim suggests that the Republican nominee for president believes the voters of Ohio are not sophisticated enough to separate fact from fiction.
The fact about Chrysler and Jeep is clearly laid out in a statement from the company’s chief executive officer, Sergio Marchionne: “I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.
“North American production is critical to achieving our goal of selling 800,000 Jeep vehicles by 2014. In fact, U.S. production of our Jeep models has nearly tripled (it is expected to be up 185%) since 2009 in order to keep up with global demand.”
The fact about GM is contained in a searing critique of the advertising campaign.
“The ad is cynical campaign politics at its worst,” Greg Martin, GM spokesman, told the New York Times. “We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.”
Romney first spun his fiction about Chrysler during a campaign stop in Defiance, Ohio: “I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state Jeep — now owned by the Italians — is thinking of moving all production to China.”
The story he referenced appeared in Bloomberg News. The story did not reflect what Romney had said.
So, how is the GOP presidential standard bearer responding to the widespread denunciation of his charge against the president? By refusing to withdraw the TV campaign commercial playing in Ohio, and even doubling down — with a radio spot that comes close to repeating the charge, and expanding it to include GM.
It does not seem to matter to Romney that every legitimate news organization that has reported on the story has reached the same conclusion: There is no truth to the claim that Chrysler will be eliminating jobs in Toledo and other plants in the U.S. so as to build Jeeps in China. Nor is there a basis for his saying that GM is cutting jobs in America and creating them in China.
It is true that Chrysler, which is owned by the Italian auto maker Fiat, is considering reopening its Chinese plants that were closed in 2009 in the midst of the American auto industry collapse. It is also true that GM has plants in China.
The two companies were struggling to keep afloat when Republican President George W. Bush and his successor, President Obama, correctly concluded that the federal government had to intervene with cash.
The bailout of GM and Chrysler — Ford chose not to take public dollars, but the company’s CEO urged the White House to provide assistance to the other two — has become a major issue in the state of Ohio. More than 800,000 jobs are related to the auto industry, and for regions like the Mahoning Valley, which boasts one of GM’s highest-rated plants because of the success of the Chevrolet Cruze, the bailout was a godsend.
Not only are the two auto giants making healthy profits, they also are investing heavily in Ohio.
People need only look at GM’s Lordstown assembly facility to see what the bailout has produced. The Cruze is the top selling compact car in America, and GM is pumping in $200 million to prepare the plant for the second generation of the car.
As for Chrysler, it will invest $500 million directly to tool and expand its Toledo assembly complex that will be adding 1,100 jobs on the second shift by 2013. The complex produces the Jeep Wrangler, and will build the successor to the Jeep Liberty.
Romney’s attempt at disinformation won’t work. He is on record as opposing the government bailout of GM and Chrysler and is now attempting to distract Ohioans with the latest fiction about President Obama.