The Campaign Spot

President Obama, the Auto Dealer Layoff King

The Obama campaign has decided that this week’s Bright Shiny ObjectTM  will be the folks laid off while Mitt Romney was running Bain Capital.

Because President Obama has never laid anyone off… oh, wait:

President Obama’s auto task force pressed General Motors and Chrysler to close scores of dealerships without adequately considering the jobs that would be lost or having a firm idea of the cost savings that would be achieved, an audit of the process has concluded.

The report by Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program of the Treasury Department, said both car makers needed to shut down some underperforming dealerships. But it questioned whether the cuts should have been made so quickly, particularly during a recession. The report, released on Sunday, estimated that tens of thousands of jobs were lost as a result.

“It is not at all clear that the greatly accelerated pace of the dealership closings during one of the most severe economic downturns in our nation’s history was either necessary for the sake of the companies’ economic survival or prudent for the sake of the nation’s economic recovery,” the report said.

About a year ago, G.M. informed more than 2,000 dealers that some or all of their franchise agreements would not be renewed in October 2010. Chrysler eliminated 789 dealers, or about a quarter of its network, with less than a month’s notice.

Both carmakers voluntarily rescinded some terminations — 666 at G.M. and 50 at Chrysler — which, the report said, “suggests, at the very least, that the number and speed of the terminations was not necessarily critical to the manufacturers’ viability.”

I’m sure Obama fans will insist, “but the layoffs under our guy are completely different!” They’ll insist that in order to preserve the entire institution during a time when its continued operation was jeopardized, it was necessary to lay off certain branches and employees… which is, of course, precisely what Bain Capital was doing, or at least what the management of Bain Capital believed it was doing.

The line between heartless, cruel sacrifices of hardworking Americans to corporate greed and necessary sacrifices to ensure continued viability of a company in a competitive market is often in the eye of the beholder.

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