If political courage is defined by doing the right thing even when it is unpopular, President Obama’s rescue of the American auto industry deserves a Profile in Courage:

It was, to put it gently, unpopular. In polls at the time, 3 in 4 Americans said Washington should not broaden its effort to help the carmakers, as it ended up doing; nearly 6 in 10 poll respondents opposed the bailouts once they happened; and 54 percent of people said they were “mostly bad for the economy.” Largely negative polls accumulated through 2010 and 2011, too.

Those were the numbers Mitt Romney was looking at when he, in effect, recommended that the president let the industry die. With no private money available to finance a managed bankruptcy, Romney’s plan would have put the car makers and their suppliers out of business, left their assets and pensions worth cents on the dollar, and their jobs permanently destroyed. That’s a model Romney perfected at Bain Capital to enrich himself and his partners, but it’s not a model that would have helped the American people. Obama stepped in and look at us now!

Chrysler and General Motors, the major beneficiaries of the auto rescue, have both reported their best profits in more than a decade, and both were already <a href="planning to add jobs this year. With factories now struggling to meet demand, both foreign and domestic auto companies are planning to add even more jobs, and as the Center for American Progress’ Adam Hersh and Jane Farrell noted in April, the industry has added more than 139,000 jobs in the last three years.
The strength of the auto industry is yet another sign that letting it fail would have been a major mistake. Not only would it have cost more than a million jobs at a time when the economy was struggling, it would have prevented the current growth that is helping both the industry and the American economy recover.

USA Today also reports that the carmakers are struggling to meet demand:

Automakers are pushing factories and workers to the limit to try to meet burgeoning demand for new vehicles.

Some plants are adding third work shifts. Others are piling on worker overtime and six-day weeks. And Ford Motor and Chrysler Group are cutting out or reducing the annual two-week July shutdown at several plants this summer to add thousands of vehicles to their output.

“We have many plants working at maximum capacity now,” says Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans. “We’re building as many (cars) as we can.”

When Mitt Romney tried to take “a lot of credit” for this turnaround in Detroit’s fortunes, even Forbes laughed at him:

It’s a common thing for a presidential candidate to pontificate about an issue of the day. It’s quite another for one to take credit for something he had no discernible role in.

But that isn’t stopping Mitt Romney. On Monday, in an interview with Cleveland‘s WEWS-TV, Romney said, “I’ll take a lot of credit” for the revival of the Detroit companies that went through federally sponsored bankruptcies.

As Justin Hyde on Motoramic put it, “It’s too bad for Romney that Al Gore invented the Internet so we could keep track of what actually happened.”

Heh. Indeed.

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