Paul Ryan is trying to convince voters in Michigan and other manufacturing states that he’s committed to the domestic auto industry.
Joe Biden, as he prepares to debate Ryan in Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, should take note. Because what Ryan is saying about that “commitment” stands in stark contrast with a record of bad votes, neglect of fundamental issues and disregard for the pleas by autoworkers that Ryan represent them—as opposed to his campaign donors on Wall Street.
On Monday night in Michigan, Ryan promised voters that he and Mitt Romney will fight for to make sure that America keeps making cars and trucks.
“Trust me. I come from Detroit West,” the Republican nominee for vice president said in Rochester, Michigan. “We know we need a healthy auto sector.”
That was a reference to southeastern Wisconsin, the region across Lake Michigan, that Ryan represents in Congress. For a century, communities in Ryan’s 1st congressional district were “auto towns,” like Detroit and Flint and Pontiac in Michigan.
What Ryan said about “Detroit West” and his commitment to maintaining a muscular auto industry sounded great.
“Know this: We want the strongest auto sector. We want American manufacturing to have a comeback,” he declared. “And the way we do that is we stop sending all our decisions to Washington in a government-driven economy.”
But a “government-driven economy” didn’t harm the auto industry. It helped.
When the industry was tanking, President Obama convinced Congress to support an auto bailout that, by most accounts, renewed General Motors and Chrysler, keeping factories going and saving hundreds of thousands of jobs.
It was Mitt Romney who wanted to “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
And what of Ryan?
He voted for “free-trade” agreements—particularly the extension of permanent “Most-Favored Nation” trading status to China—that were devastating for the auto industry in what he refers to as “Detroit West.” He opposed moves to mitigate against the damage, including the Currency Reform and Fair Trade Act. He rejected industrial policies and planning initiatives that might have helped “Detroit West.”