GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum blasts automotive bailouts

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Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, taken in 1995.

Rick Santorum, during his time in Congress. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/United States Congress/Wikipedia)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has an ax to grind regarding the way the Obama administration handled the automotive bailout, Automotive News reports. The former Pennsylvania senator told a Detroit, Mich., audience that he wouldn’t have floated taxpayer money to General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC because he believes “too big to fail” means they were big enough to help themselves.

‘Alive and better off’

Santorum did not hesitate to inform the 300 in attendance at the Detroit Economic Club luncheon Thursday of his opinion regarding how GM and Chrysler would be doing if not for the bailout money.

“They’d be alive and equally as well, or better off, than they are now,” he said. “The markets would have reacted to restructure it to be more competitive.”

In addition to his rebuffing of how the George W. Bush and Obama administrations handled the automotive bailout, Santorum seized the opportunity to highlight his own position in a more favorable light than that of GOP rival Gov. Mitt Romney, 64, of Massachusetts. The Michigan primary occurs Feb. 28.

“Governor Romney supported the bailout of Wall Street and decided not to support the bailout of Detroit,” Santorum said, referring to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). “My feeling was the government should not be involved in bailouts, period. That’s a much more consistent position.”

Rising star versus the native

Recent poll results indicate that Santorum, 53, has grown more popular in Michigan, despite the fact that it is Romney’s home state. One Feb. 13 poll showed a 15-percentage point lead for Santorum, while another had him ahead by six. Numerous other polls suggest that Santorum is likely to beat Romney in the state. However, Romney has been endorsed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder – who supported the automotive bailout – and Romney continues to hold the edge in fundraising.

Blame Bush

While Rick Santorum is no fan of Obama’s willingness to remain heavily involved in propping up the U.S. automotive industry, he recognizes that bailouts began with President George W. Bush near the end of his final term in 2008.

“I actually blame President Bush more than I do President Obama,” Santorum said. “President Obama was just following suit.”

GM’s earnings in 2011 hit $9.19 billion, reportedly the largest annual profit in the automaker’s 103-year history.

‘Big spender’ attack ads

Automotive News notes that the Mitt Romney support group Restore Our Future has a series of television advertisements ready for Michigan airwaves that refer to Rick Santorum as a “big spender” and “Washington insider” who lacks the kind of private sector business experience Romney has. Santorum has worked as a lobbyist since he left Congress. One ad points out that during Santorum’s time in Congress, he voted for “billions in wasteful projects,” including Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.”

[At Honda of Austin, you'll be going somewhere]

Rick Santorum on the automotive bailout

Sources

Automotive News

Mlive.com

New York Times


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