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by
Neil Snyder

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February 26, 2012 - 9:50 am

 

Today on “Meet the Press,” Rick Santorum got into a heated exchange with David Gregory, the show’s moderator, about Santorum’s campaign statements over the last few days in Michigan that he would never have supported an auto industry bailout.  Below is an excerpt from the February 16, 2012 Detroit Free Press dealing with the issue:

“Making his Michigan campaign debut at the home of the auto industry, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said today he would not have supported the government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.

Santorum said it was good news the two companies have rebounded. But, he said, government intervention, whether to save Wall Street banks or auto companies, is a mistake because it creates an environment in which companies operate with the expectation they won’t have to pay for bad decisions.

[…]

Santorum took a shot at rival Mitt Romney, who also opposed the auto bailouts but not, Santorum said, aid to big banks. ‘I was consistent,’ said Santorum. ‘I think the government should not have bailed out either one.’”

When questioned further by Gregory about his support for the steel industry, Santorum said that the steel industry has never gotten a bailout.  He even went so far as to say that he was around in the 1970s and 1980s, so he knows.  Well, he doesn’t know.  Below are two headlines from October 1, 1980:

These headlines are personal to me because I was inside the White House on September 30, 1980 meeting with President Carter.  Steel industry executives were the group coming in behind our group, and we crossed paths with them on the south lawn of the White House as we were leaving.  I remember distinctly that they got out of their limousines smoking big cigars and making a display of their arrival.  It annoyed me because the next day I was scheduled to discuss the steel industry with my business strategy classes.

The specific issue for discussion in class would be U.S. imports of Japanese steel because U.S. steel producers were being clobbered.  I was going to explain to my students that U.S. steel companies should not get support from the federal government because Japanese manufacturers were importing both coal and iron ore, converting them to steel, and exporting the finished product to the U.S. at a price that was lower than the cost of production of U.S. steel companies.  It was clear evidence of the inability of U.S. steel producers to compete primarily because of their excessively high labor costs.

It was an election year, so Carter did come to the aid of U.S. steel companies at the expense of taxpayers.  In other words, it was a bailout, and Senator Santorum needs to get his facts straight.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled "If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You’re Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You’re Not an Idiot".
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