Democrats criticize Mandel for opposing auto bailoutWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | email@example.com
Corey Fletcher credits Sen. Sherrod Brown with saving her job.
The lifelong Toledo resident stood before a group of reporters at the Lucas County Democratic Party Headquarters on March 13 for a news conference and talked about the years she has worked for Chrysler.
She worked for 10 years before the auto industry started to plummet. She was offered $75,000 to quit. She refused. Toledo, she said, is her home. She would have to move in search of other jobs.
But in 2008, she was one of the thousands of people employed by Chrysler and General Motors Co. who was laid off. She was jobless for 10 months.
“I remember how frightening it was, wondering how I would pay the bills, whether I would lose my home and how to continue to put my son through barber school,” she said. “To politicians like Josh Mandel (Brown’s opponent), I was a number on a sheet of paper, a statistic flashing across the TV screen.”
She was rehired after the government gave loans to the auto industry and Chrysler made a comeback, she said. Her voice wavered as she explained that both she and her son, who works at a plant that supplies parts for Jeeps, “owe their jobs to the auto rescue.”
Fletcher’s story is a testament to the Democrats’ plan to promote the government’s auto bailout as the savior of the industry.
Since the government lent billions to GM and Chrysler in 2009, the companies have declared bankruptcy, begun repaying loans, have started turning profits and have rehired and announced expansions.
Ron Rothenbuhler, the Lucas County Democratic Party chairman, joined County Commissioner Pete Gerken and UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower to praise Sen. Brown for his efforts to rescue the auto industry.
They criticized Mandel for opposing the auto rescue, calling the state treasurer “out of touch” and a menace to the middle class.
Mandel, who was labeled a career politician by those in his own party who ran against him in the primaries, has been under fire from the Democrats for missing Board of Deposit meetings, not being open with the public and for his take on the auto industry rescue.
The Democrats cited Mandel’s comments to the Youngstown Vindicator this month as evidence that he would have voted against the auto recovery plan. He told the reporter that he disagreed that the bailout saved the American auto industry and that he was developing his own plan.
His press contact did not return repeated calls for comment, and Mandel has not provided details about his own auto rescue plan.
Mandel shouldn’t even have an auto rescue plan, said John McAvoy, a board member of the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition. He said that under no condition should the government bail out or save industries from failing. Mandel’s only “rescue plan” should be to refer failing companies to the bankruptcy system so they are forced to slim down and correct their problems in order to succeed, he said.
“When the government steps in and does what they did, that’s not fair to the competition,” McAvoy said. “The guys that run their company like crap, they fail, but in this case, the government stepped in and paid them for bad behavior.”
McAvoy he did not vote for Mandel in the primaries because of his elusiveness. The treasurer did not attend McAvoy’s organization’s candidate forum and later ducked out of a forum at the City Club of Cleveland.
“He didn’t show up or return phone calls and if a person is like that while they’re campaigning, how are they going to be when they’re sitting in Washington?” McAvoy said. “You’re never going to see him.”
Still, he said, he’ll vote against Brown. McAvoy said he has lost trust in GM and Chrysler because of the auto rescue that Brown heralded.
Baumhower, who lobbied Congress for the auto rescue along with other union leaders and city mayors, said he is experiencing improvements in Toledo because of the rescue.
The Jeep Wrangler plant, he said, hit a world record last year by producing 165,000 Wranglers. Hundreds of additional job openings have been announced and the company is making millions of dollars’ worth of expansions, he said.
He pointed out that the auto rescue was not a handout. The companies did have to undergo major restructuring. Plus, he said, new employees still only make $15 an hour, compared to the $28 an hour they might have made years ago.
The government still owns a portion of GM. Gerken also stressed at the podium March 13 that the rescue was not a bailout, but a loan. He said he worked for Jeep for 30 years.
“It’s not the ‘too big to fail,’ it’s that we’re too smart and too tough and too engrained to give up a legacy industry in our country,” Gerken said. “This isn’t about anybody failing. This is about giving these workers and these leaders, myself, a chance again to do it. There’s no fail here … give us a chance and we’ll work our way out.”