Romney keeps trying to wriggle off the hook from his infamous “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” op-ed in the New York Times. But it’s way worse than you think, as this piece from Booman Tribune shows. He was actually advocating using the bankruptcy process to completely screw every auto worker, past and present, by busting all existing union worker contracts, rescinding all pension obligations, and scrap any auto plant that wasn’t running at full speed. He saw the crisis as the perfect excuse to squeeze out all those excess costs and improve the companies’ balance sheets. It probably never crossed his mind that those costs meant jobs, health care, and the difference between a middle class life and poverty for millions of families. Because as he amply showed at the Republican National Convention, Mitt doesn’t really see people. All he sees are numbers on a spreadsheet. Boiled down to its core, the message of the RNC was simple: “I’ve got mine, Jack. Screw you.”
Bankruptcy would also have allowed the auto companies to escape any outstanding payments to suppliers, and given the companies the ability to renege on and renegotiate all supplier contracts. So his plan would not only have shafted all GM and Chrysler employees and retirees; it would have most likely killed the entire manufacturing supply chain. By bringing down the whole auto parts industry, it would have also taken Ford down in the process. And of course, every auto dealer in the country associated with those three companies would likely have gone under as well. This rippling cascade of uncontrolled bankruptcies and liquidations would have meant losing more than 5% of US GDP.
But if you’re someone like Mitt Romney, there’s totally a bright side: people like him, the bankers and investment firms that handle the crashed firms, always make big money on the deals. Because they structure things so their pockets are the first to be filled from selling off the pieces picked off the carcasses. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out he was maneuvering to be one of the jackals, ready to feast on the carrion.
Mitt’s was a neutron bomb strategy that would have left behind the buildings and vaporized the people, replacing union workers with decent pay and good benefits with lowest-priced labor with the least benefits the companies could get away with. It’s the perfect strategy for the ruthless corporate raider he is and always has been. But it’s incompatible with being the president of the United States, responsible for stewardship of the country’s manufacturing base.
I believe that George W. Bush’s administration was an almost unmitigated disaster, and that he will be remembered as one of our worst presidents. One of the most awful parts of that administration was the shameless strip mining of America’s people and resources for the benefit of the wealthy. But Bush was a bumbler. Romney is an expert. That makes him much more frightening. We must re-elect Obama.
[Program note: I posted a much shorter version of this to Facebook.]