Editor’s Note: This article will also be featured by EconomyinCrisis.org
In the past few days voters in Ohio and Michigan have encountered a startling series of political advertisements from the Romney campaign. The Republican presidential hopeful is running ads on television and radio claiming both that President Obama bankrupted the auto industry and that America’s automakers are now poised to move “all of their production” to China.
Thousands of Chrysler employees were told by Mr. Romney during a stump speech in Defiance, Ohio that under President Obama’s leadership their jobs were being sent to China. He specifically stated that the iconic Jeep would now be wholly produced overseas – Jeeps is a Chrysler Group brand.
Mr. Romney’s claim was either incredibly poorly researched, or simply a bold-faced lie.
First we need to dig into the facts.
Neither General Motors nor Chrysler is cutting American jobs. In fact, both companies intend to increase domestic employment and production effective immediately. The 2008 Recession and lingering malaise did cost our country thousands of manufacturing jobs, but the claim that these auto companies are currently outsourcing their American workforce is simply untrue.
Both Chrysler and General Motors, breaking with their long-standing traditions of remaining out of electoral politics, have issued public statements refuting the Romney campaign’s unfounded outsourcing claims.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was forced to email the entire employee list-serve stating that he felt obligated to correct the “public debate” and guaranteeing that US production would not be moved abroad.
Nearly every media and news outlet in the United States has weighed in on the Romney campaign’s auto industry attacks, and his Chrysler speech in particular. The media has universally rebuked and refuted Mr. Romney. Several newspapers that actually endorsed Romney’s candidacy have come out to refute his claims.
On October 25, 2012 The Detroit News endorsed candidate Romney. On October 27 the paper began running articles referring to his Chrysler-Jeep claim as a “lie”.
On October 29 Greg Sargent of The Washington Post, which endorsed President Obama, also called the Romney claim a “lie”.
Also on October 29, the Pulitzer Prize-winning independent fact-checker PolitiFact.com rated the statement “Pants on Fire”. The tongue-in-cheek rating standard indicates that it was not simply incorrect but intentionally misleading.
Mr. Romney’s claim came from a sparse reading of a conservative blog, which was itself drawn from a poor reading of a Bloomberg News report about Chrysler investing in production facilities in China. The cars being built in China will be sold in China. The cars being built in the United States will be sold in the United States.
Had Mr. Romney chosen to use the report of Chrysler’s expanded production to highlight concerns regarding globalization and Chinese trade protectionism it would have been a useful discussion. Instead he opted to falsify reporting and count on Ohio and Michigan voters, who are overwhelmingly supportive of the 2009 auto bailout, to not know the difference between truth and reality.
Mr. Romney has spent much of his candidacy talking tough on China. Why did he not use this opportunity as a chance to drive home the point that China is building things that ought to be built in America?
[See: Part Two]