Trying Too Hard With Rep. Jason Chaffetz

UPDATE: We’re seeing a number of stories about these remarks by President Barack Obama in Colorado yesterday, and they can be divided into two categories: right wing blogs going absolutely nuts, and mainstream media outlets correcting the record. It looks to us like a concerted attempt was made by Mitt Romney campaign surrogates to twist this into something that could be used politically against Obama–and based on what we see, they’ve failed pretty spectacularly convincing media outlets to take the bait.

ABC News reports:

It’s no secret President Obama is proud of the taxpayer-funded government intervention that rescued U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler back in 2009. He regularly takes credit for the companies’ resurgent profitability and hiring as one of his top achievements.

Now, Republicans say Obama is suggesting on the campaign trail that he wants to do it again, this time in other sectors of the economy, in order to “get the hand of government driving every industry in America.”

…The Obama campaign refuted the notion as political spin that does not reflect the president’s sentiment or intention, pointing to full context of the quote as evidence. [Pols emphasis]

And like good journalists, ABC posts the full clip for readers to decide for themselves:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Perhaps even more revealing, Politico put up a story originally titled “Obama: Let’s repeat auto rescue with every manufacturing industry” yesterday afternoon. Today this story was revised with a new title, “Obama: Let’s repeat auto industry success.” And this clarification:

Clarification: This post was updated to reflect the president’s intent to express his support for manufacturing success. An earlier version was unclear about his intent.

Not so much unclear as it was absurd. But we’re pleased to see Politico had the integrity to fix this after sleeping on it–or whatever persuaded them to revisit their prior reporting.


Something we’ve noticed in our years of blogging on Colorado politics: often, folks who are trying really, really hard to stay on offense try too hard, and wind up convincing you of something else entirely–that they’re determined to criticize everything, no matter how silly they look.

Today’s case in point comes from a Colorado right-wing blog site we’ve discussed in this space a few times, the always-entertaining Colorado Observer. Breathlessly reporting President Barack Obama’s “latest gaffe” on the campaign trail, supposedly committed in Pueblo yesterday:

President Obama made another economic policy gaffe Thursday in Pueblo when he suggested that he wants to bail out a host of other corporations as he already did with the auto industry.

“I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back,” Obama said. “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.”

Critics wasted no time pouncing on the president’s statement. Hours later, Republicans traveling the state on the Romney bus ripped the remark at a rally at Acacia Park in Colorado Springs.

“Just a couple of hours ago, Barack Obama said he wanted government to get involved in every industry,” Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz said… [Pols emphasis]

So, uh, is that even remotely close to what President Obama actually said? Because we read this statement to mean the president wants manufacturing jobs in every industry to “come roaring back” like the auto industry has. An independent report released yesterday says that the auto industry has recovered some 236,000 jobs since 2009. Should those workers apologize?

It’s plain to us that Obama was simply talking about bringing manufacturing jobs back, not getting government “involved in every industry.” That’s a ridiculous “death panel”-style leap. To jump to such a wild conclusion based on an innocuous statement like this speaks more to the unhinged (or unprincipled) person drawing the conclusion. In this case, a sitting member of Congress.

As for the Colorado Observer, we wish them the same success that we do “every” blog.

22 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ClubTwitty says:

    With the disjunct:

    To jump to such a wild conclusion based on an innocuous statement like this speaks more to the unhinged ( or unprincipled) person making the statement

    I believe the correct answer requires a conjunction:

    Namely, that the sitting member of Congress is both unhinged and unprincipled.

    • ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

      I read Obama’s comment the same way Chaffetz does. Obama wants to bring the “success” he brought to the auto industry to every industry. What success has Obama brought the auto industry other than a bailout?

      What I don’t understand is how you would read Obama’s comments any other way.

      • AristotleAristotle says:

        “I read Obama’s comment the same way Chaffetz does.”

        The day that you DON’T go along with the official line, no matter how silly, is the day they stop paying you.

      • harrydobyharrydoby says:

        While Obama can claim major credit for saving a few million auto industry and related jobs in 2009, our favorite GOP whipping boy got the ball rolling because, for once, he got a clear picture of a dreadful future in his crystal ball:

        Lost in Obama’s victory lap was the fact that Bush passed him the baton.

        Pushing against a reluctant Congress, Bush steered $17.4 billion in emergency loans to GM and Chrysler in his final weeks in office, on condition they shrink debt, negotiate wage and benefit cuts with workers and submit plans to achieve “long-term viability, international competitiveness and energy efficiency.”

        The new Obama administration followed with more than $60 billion in aid, more expansive requirements and hands-on management of the crisis.

        With hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake, ideology took a back seat. “Sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy,” Bush said in a speech this month. “I didn’t want there to be 21 percent unemployment.”

        Other fun facts:

        No one can know what would have happened absent the bailout. But it’s a distinctly minority view that the private sector, raked then by the financial crisis, would have nursed Detroit back to health without a massive infusion of federal aid. In late 2008, banks weren’t making many loans, much less to companies that were out of cash. The Bush administration moved fast because it saw no time to let an orderly bankruptcy unfold, even if banks had the money and the will to steer automakers through the process.

        Romney’s grim prognosis, before GM and Chrysler took the aid, is in stark contrast with the turnaround that followed. Last week GM reported a record profit for 2011, two years after the company’s near-collapse, and said 47,500 union workers will get $7,000 profit-sharing checks, the most ever.

        I know, I know, union workers not only kept their jobs, but worse, are getting paid bonuses, taking hard-earned money out of the pockets of billionaire “job creators” that could have gone to much better use.

      • parsingreality says:

        Not that Pubs or Rmoney would understand what a “plan” is.  OK, the stop Obama at any price in dollars or stupidity or lying.  They understand that one.

        But a plan to help regular Americans?  Might as well be speaking a dead language.  

      • It seems like Republicans are willfully blinding themselves to the obvious reading.

        Obama would like to see the American manufacturing sector as a whole come back to life, and he thinks that’s worthy of a societal investment – loans or perhaps even non-voting stock purchases a la the auto industry bailout.

        Now, the current state of U.S. manufacturing is generally worse than the auto industries, but in a way that’s not as bad for taxpayers.  Simply put, manufacturing in the U.S. is largely dead.  There’s nothing to bail out.  And the U.S. has to at least make an attempt to comply with WTO trade agreements, or else our products get slapped with tariffs.

        So government investment would probably equate to SBA style loan guarantees.  You like SBA loans, right?

        If the government opts for a more direct investment, it will probably go with non-voting common stock purchases.  While the government may still own a significant amount of GM stock, it doesn’t vote – that’s good for you because it means the company isn’t really controlled by the government, right?

        It’s sad that so many Republicans have stooped so low that they have to make up sinister motives for Democratic actions rather than taking them at face value.

        • ParkHill says:

          (1) State and Local governments are laying off school teachers and police in the name of austerity.

          (2) The housing industry (and construction) is collapsed because of debt overhang.

          Fix the housing industry and you fix the economy. It would be easy by letting everybody refinance at today’s rates. That would free up the middle class wallet, and revive demand across the rest of the economy.

          • Manufacturing is only “healthy” compared to its recent state; it’s still pretty moribund.

            The main problem with housing isn’t the industry, it’s with the debt issue as you note.  Unfortunately, while this issue is a big deal, fixing it won’t free up the economy as easily as you think – we’ve moved beyond that now.  We have government employment issues, but we also have a worldwide credit crunch; that was caused in part by the housing crisis, but it’s now driven by other factors.

            The U.S. can probably hold out if it invests in itself; the rest of the world needs to solve its credit issues, and the best way through that would seem to be getting past the sabotage of the credit rating agencies and the banks that are either in cahoots with them or are listening to them.

            • ParkHill says:

              The economy is bad in general, and employment is down. Housing is WAAAY down and not recovering. State employment is declining due to Republican austerity.

              However, we are seeing slow recovery in most industries and companies are profitable (see the stock market). The recovery would become much faster if demand were to increase.

              What would cause demand to increase?

              Consumers are not spending because they have a huge debt overhang. That is why refinancing house loans across the country, would be such an effective way to free up consumers to spend more.  

              • harrydobyharrydoby says:

                Time for the mortgage companies to clean up their books and take a little haircut:

                NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Despite rising home prices, more than 30% of borrowers, or close to 16 million homeowners, were underwater on their mortgage during the first quarter, according to Zillow.

              • Consumers are not BORROWING because they have a huge debt overhang.  It’s not like their interest rates have gone up and they’re not able to spend what they used to.  They aren’t able to spend what they used to because they aren’t making as much money – they’ve lost jobs or hours.

                Don’t get me wrong: refinancing and even mortgage adjustments are the right moves to stabilize a hairy situation.  Doing so would put banks in a less precarious position (albeit with perhaps a loss in long term profits) and free up bank credit for easier lending terms.  And it would free up some money in lower interest rates.

                But consumers saving money vs. borrowing against home equity because the credit was easy to obtain isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own.  Our consumer debt spending was a big problem.  So let’s not get lost in the weeds and pretend that fixing mortgage rates will solve the country’s problems.

      • BlueCat says:

        Something we’ve noticed in our years of blogging on Colorado politics: often, folks who are trying really, really hard to stay on offense try too hard, and wind up convincing you of something else entirely–that they’re determined to criticize everything, no matter how silly they look.

        Works just as well in reference to you, Arap.

      • Old Time Dem says:

        just as soon as the day’s talking points were e-mailed, faxed, or beamed into your fillings.

      • MADCO says:

        …auto industry has recovered some 236,000 jobs…

        Which was due to the bailout you so oddly want to hang on the president.

        What would you have preferred for those 236,000 workers?

        They borrow money from their parents and start a company?

        They move to North Dakota?

        Or perhaps you would have preferred they moved to Asia and found an outsourced job from the US.

        Would you support a “buy local” or “buy American” law for public contracts?

        Careful- Ken Buck’s largest donor did.

        (Buck, unsurprisingly, went both ways. Supporting it initially, Buckpedaling it in the general, when this issue was superseded by buyer’s remorse.)

  2. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    This is what Obama has proposed:

    On Tuesday, he proposed creating a $1-billion network of advanced manufacturing institutes. He says his administration would launch a $45-million pilot institute funded through Defense Department coffers. Funding for the larger network would need congressional approval.

  3. Barron X says:

    to think that Obama didn’t say what he plainly said.  

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