The Ohio Democratic Party today is taking issue with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman's assertion that he supported the bailout of America's domestic auto industry in 2009.
Portman, who was not in elective office at the time, said a bailout was needed, and notes that the plan was initiated under President George W. Bush in 2008. But the one we got led to closing of three Ohio auto plants, Ohio car dealerships closed, and Delphi retirees losing pension and health care.
He asks what does Strickland have to say about those closed auto plants?
In 2009 he called it "a lousy deal for Ohio."
In a 2010 debate against his then-opponent, Democrat Lee Fisher, Portman was asked by a reporter on the panel whether he supported the bailout.
Portman replied: "Had I been in office at the time, I would have supported it." But he said he "would have liked to have seen more conditions," such as preventing Ohio plants from closing.
So it was both "a lousy deal" and something worthy of his support.
Portman was not in office. He didn't have to take a vote.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton did. Both were in the Senate, and they took opposite sides of a vote to repeal the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program on Jan. 15, 2009. That was the umbrella program under which Chrysler and GM were saved from a devastating liquidation bankruptcy.
In that vote, some Republicans tried to kill TARP, which would have killed the bailout. Portman says now that he would not have voted to support the measure, and it's reasonable to believe him. Six Republicans joined the majority of Democrats in voting voted not to kill TARP. Among them was Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio).
Say what you want about the bailout, metro Toledo has three working U.S. auto manufacturing plants because of the agreement that a lot of Republicans opposed at the time.
Here's the Ohio Democratic Party statement:
SHOT/CHASER: Portman’s ‘Lousy’ Auto Rescue Lie
SHOT: May 22, 2016: Portman Claimed He Supported The Auto Rescue: “‘I supported the bailout. We needed to have a bailout,’ he said.” [Toledo Blade, 5/22/16]
CHASER: May 27, 2011: Portman Opposed The Auto Rescue: “Portman assailed it as a ‘lousy deal for Ohio’...” [Columbus Dispatch, 5/27/11]
See also: “‘Portman’s position was and remains still, that the auto bailout was not a good deal for Ohio,’ Portman’s office said.” [Examiner, 5/24/11]
From Daniel van Hoogstraten, Ohio Democratic Party spokesman: “Just like the ultimate Washington insider that he is, Senator Portman is lying about his well-documented and vocal opposition to the auto rescue that saved more than a hundred thousand Ohio jobs. It’s just another example of how Portman is the kind of D.C. politician who will say anything to help himself -- and that even Portman knows his record of looking out for the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of working people represents everything Ohioans hate about Washington.”
Here's a statement from the Portman campaign:
“While he wasn’t in the Senate at the time, Rob Portman has consistently said he would have supported the auto rescue but would have pushed for improvements to protect the auto plants and dealerships in Ohio that shut down during Governor Strickland’s tenure. The fact is that the worst thing to happen to the Ohio worker in recent years was Ted Strickland’s tenure as governor when Ohio lost over 350,000 jobs and ranked 48th in job creation. Strickland never met a job he couldn’t outsource to another state or country, and Ohio workers and families cannot afford to go back to that horrible, failed record," Portman campaign spokesperson Michawn Rich said.
Background: As the co-chair the Senate Auto Caucus, Portman has worked across the aisle to protect Ohio workers from currency manipulation and helped to ensure Ohio manufacturers can compete on a level playing field. Portman has been recognized for his work to protect USW workers at Cooper Tire in Findlay, UAW workers at AK Steel in Zanesville, and USW workers at Glatfelter in Chillicothe.
I supported the federal government stepping in and playing a necessary role in helping our U.S. auto industry…
In the process, the federal government gave the Italian company Fiat a 30 percent ownership stake and effective control of Chrysler. Some favored creditors received more than they were entitled to, while others were left holding the bag…The bankruptcy the companies went through was not without pain: The government decided that three GM plants in Ohio -- Mansfield, Columbus and the Parma Powertrain plant -- would be shut down. More than 100 local car dealerships in Ohio and thousands across the nation were ordered closed at the government's direction. And over 20,000 retirees who worked for the auto-parts maker Delphi -- including thousands of families in Dayton and Youngstown -- were cut out of the government deal and saw their hard-earned pensions shrink by up to 70 percent….