Those who got the rescue wrong

It’s pretty entertaining to look back at Republican quotes in 2009, responding to President Obama’s rescue of the American automotive industry.

Dozens of prominent Republican officials, including most of the GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate, were absolutely certain the rescue would be a disaster. In the midst of an economic crisis, Republicans saw the American automotive industry — one of the central backbones of the nation’s manufacturing sector — teetering on the brink of collapse. The GOP was prepared to simply let it fail, forcing hundreds of thousands of workers into unemployment during an already-severe jobs crisis.

What’s more, they were equally certain Obama’s rescue plan was hopeless. It was a foregone conclusion, they said, since government intervention in the marketplace is always a disaster. Mitt Romney, in particular, said policymakers should “let Detroit go bankrupt,” and called the administration’s plan “tragic.”

Except they were wrong — about literally every aspect of the debate. The policy they assured us was doomed to fail actually succeeded, and every GOP prediction about the rescue has proven false. McClatchy reports this week that the industry is now starting to hum.

After a near collapse at the height of the Great Recession, the streamlined U.S. auto industry defied the odds and outperformed the greater economy this year with solid sales increases, job growth and product innovations that signal that a full industry recovery no longer is just possible, but probable. […]

After selling roughly 11.8 million cars and trucks last year, U.S. vehicle sales to businesses and consumers are expected to hit nearly 12.8 million in 2011, Toprak said. That’s up from 10.6 million at the height of the Great Recession in 2009. […]

U.S. and foreign automakers are poised to add nearly 167,000 U.S. jobs by the end of 2015, according to the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. That breaks down to 30,000 hourly and salaried workers at the Big Three U.S. automakers, 17,000 jobs at foreign automakers and about 120,000 auto-supply sector jobs.

“The industry has pretty much hired back just about everybody from the automotive side that had been laid off. And now they’re hiring fresh, so they’re actually adding to their rosters. And it’s not just the Detroit automakers. It’s everybody,” said Aaron Bragman, senior analyst at IHS Automotive in Northville, Mich.

As for Republicans who assured us the opposite would happen, I’m reminded of a column E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote over the summer: ‘[What’s wrong, sorry to say, is that you won’t see a news conference where the bailout’s foes candidly acknowledge how mistaken they were. The lack of accountability is stunning but not surprising.”