Car Wars: With Obama’s help, The Force Awakens

     In this photo from Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, a Jeep is seen for sale at a Chrysler / Dodge dealership (Ben Margot/AP Photo)

    In this photo from Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, a Jeep is seen for sale at a Chrysler / Dodge dealership (Ben Margot/AP Photo)

    Wanna feel patriotic? Check out this great news:

    Drivers in the United States bought more cars last year than ever before, a staggering turnaround for an auto industry fighting for its life half a decade ago, as low gas prices and a strengthening economy marked a banner year on American roads. About 17.5 million cars and trucks were sold last year, automakers said Tuesday, overtaking the (record) 17.3 million sales in 2000….

    (2015’s) estimated $437 billion in car sales capped a six-year growth streak, the industry’s first since World War II. The record-setting year has squashed recession-era worries that the industry would never recover and given fuel to the Obama administration’s argument that the auto bailout helped carmakers survive….

    See that stuff in boldface? You can see where I’m going with this.

    For Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, whose brands include Jeep and Dodge, U.S. sales rose 7 percent last year, giving the automaker its best year in a decade, the company said. The other ­automakers in Detroit’s “Big Three,” Ford and General Motors, reported 5 percent gains in sales.

    “It’s truly remarkable that the auto industry is finishing off its best year ever just six years after the depths of the Great Recession,” said Jessica Caldwell, the director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com….The sales record has been hailed as a victory for President Obama, who hammered out an $80 billion bailout agreement that rescued GM and Chrysler at the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009.

    Bingo!

    Yes, the domestic auto industry has bounced back big time for a number of reasons – the recovering economy, cheaper gas, a pent-up demand for new cars to replace old cars – but it was Obama’s bailout deal that gave the industry sufficient footing to weather the Great Recession and position itself for a major rebound. The macroeconomic stats have been obvious for several years now; the new report on record car sales further confirms what we’ve already known.

    Which brings me to today’s feature attraction – a sampling of the GOP’s doomsday predictions, circa 2009. I’ve been saving them up for years. They’re hilarious and oh so delicious. Ready?

    Senator John McCain: ”Anybody who believes that Chrysler is going to survive, I’d like to meet them.”

    Rep. Eric Cantor, the future House majority leader: ”I don’t want Speaker Pelosi and Harry Reid designing the car that I drive, and I don’t think any American does, either. Washington, the president, Congress – none has any business running (GM). They’ll run it into the ground.”

    Senator Jon Kyl: The auto-rescue effort ”doesn’t change anything. It just puts off for six months or so the day of reckoning.”

    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell: ”We simply cannot ask the American taxpayer to subsidize failure.”

    Senator Jim DeMint: ”The government has forced taxpayers to buy these failing companies without any plausible plan for profitability.”

    Republican chairman Michael Steele, denouncing the rescue effort: “President Obama’s economic experiments are wrong for America.”

    House Republican leader John Boehner: Obama’s rescue effort ”guarantees failure at taxpayer expense….Does anyone really believe that politicians and bureaucrats in Washington can successfully steer a multi-national corporation to economic viability?”

    Senator Richard C. Shelby: ”General Motors…is headed down this road to oblivion. Should we intervene to slow it down, knowing it’s going to happen? I say no.”

    Conservative leader Grover Norquist: On the scale of disasters, Obama’s auto bailout ranks ”somewhere in between Baghdad and fixing the flood in Louisiana.”

    House member Trent Franks: When the government intervenes in this fashion, ”the disaster that follows is predictable.”

    Newt Gingrich: GM and Chrysler are ”failing companies” that cannot be rescued.

    Naturally, none of these Republicans (nor the ones I didn’t bother to cite) have ever admitted they were wrong about the auto rescue deal. They don’t do humility. Their stock in trade is rash assertion, not self-reflection. Demanding that they admit error in light of the new car sale stats is as fruitless as asking them to revisit their predictions of a job-killing Obamacare catastrophe train wreck.

    Whatever. What matters is, the market value of their rhetoric has precipitiously plunged. The car industry’s rebound proves the point.

     

     

    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.

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