Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm gave a short, but very powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention 2012 on the final evening of the convention. Governor Granholm was frantic in 2008/2009 when the financial crisis hit the automobile industry hard.
Governor Granholm turned to President Obama and he helped.
“The entire auto industry, and the lives of over one million hard-working Americans, teetered on the edge of collapse; and with it, the whole manufacturing sector,” said Granholm. “We looked everywhere for help. Almost nobody had the guts to help us – not the banks, not the private investors and not Bain capital. Then, in 2009, the cavalry arrived: our new president, Barack Obama!”
The cavalry indeed. A one-man cavalry: Barack Obama. Against the advice of many Americans, including his own aides, Barack Obama moved forward to to help the American automakers in trouble.
In March of 2009, early in the Obama Presidency, it was obvious to President Obama and many in his administration that without swift and dramatic action, Chrysler and GM would be no more.
The automotive industry was weakened by a substantial increase in the prices of fuels linked to the 2003-2008 energy crisis. These price rises of fuels during the Bush administration, discouraged the purchases of larger vehicles of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks, which have low fuel economy. The popularity and relatively high profit margins of these vehicles had encouraged the American “Big Three” automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler to make them their primary focus. It allowed foreign makers of automobiles, such as Toyota, a chance to flourish. With fewer fuel-efficient models to offer to consumers, sales began to slide.
Obama intervened in the troubled auto industry in March 2009, renewing loans for General Motors ad Chrysler to continue operations while reorganizing. Over the following months the White House set terms for both firms’ bankruptcies, including the sale of Chrysler to Italian automaker Fiat and a reorganization of GM giving the U.S. government a temporary 60% equity stake in the company. In June 2009, dissatisfied with the pace of economic stimulus, Obama called on his cabinet to accelerate the investment and Obama signed into law the Car Allowance Rebate System, known colloquially as “Cash for Clunkers”, that temporarily boosted the economy. Those car sales boosted GM, Chrysler and Ford (which was not part of the bailout).
President Obama, said Governor Granholm, “organized a rescue, made the tough calls and saved the American auto industry.”
Granholm pointed out the “Mitt Romney saw the same crisis and you know what he said: ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt.'”
In that New York Times article, Mitt Romney said that “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”
Mitt Romney went on in discussing why he opposed giving money to the automakers writing, “Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.”
But Barack Obama sent Detroit a check, with strings of course, and the rest is history.
President Obama was right and Mitt Romney was wrong. Both men, from two very different perspectives, came to two very different conclusions. In Mitt Romney’s case it was just words, because Mitt Romney was writing as a citizen.
But President Obama, because he is President of the United States, did what Presidents do. Take quick and decisive action. The result, as Governor Granholm told the crowd at the DNC was one word.
“President Obama?,’ said Governor Granholm in a spirited speech. “With the auto rescue, he saved more than one million middle-class jobs all across America.”
She went on to list the states that benefited from the courageous actions of President Obama. “In Colorado, the auto rescue saved more than 9,800 jobs! In Virginia, more than 19,000 jobs! In North Carolina, more than 25,000! Wisconsin: more than 28,000 jobs! Pennsylvania: more than 34,000! Florida: more than 35,000! Ohio: more than 150,000! And in the great state of Michigan? President Obama helped save 211,000 good American jobs.”
Granholm went one, “All across America, autos are back! Manufacturing is rebounding! Why? Because when Mitt Romney said “Let Detroit go bankrupt,” who took the wheel? Barack Obama! When America was losing 750,000 jobs per month, who gave us a lift? Barack Obama! When American markets broke down, who jump-started the engine? Barack Obama! And when America needed it most, who got us rolling again on the road to recovery? Barack Obama!”
Then Granholm made a pitch for her friend, President Obama, who heard her pleas to save Detroit and didn’t get an answer back to “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”
“America, let’s rev our engines!” encourage Granholm, “In your car and on your ballot, the “D” is for drive forward, and the “R” is for reverse. And in this election, we’re driving forward, not back. Let’s re-elect our great president, Barack Obama!”
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books