The pros and cons of the auto bailout and concerns about the rising price of gasoline have been a political football throughout this election season. So, it should come as no surprise that the auto industry was brought up more than a few times in last night’s heated presidential debate.
Roughly a minute into the debate, the subject was raised by President Obama when asked a question about unemployment. The President’s answer: “I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again. Now when Gov. Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I said we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry and it’s coming back.”
Romney countered by pointing out that Obama followed the Governor’s advice offered in his New York Times editorial “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” from 2008. Romney stated that the President did, in fact, let Chrysler go bankrupt, and pointed out, “My plan was to have the company go through bankruptcy… and come out stronger.” Obama retorted that Romney’s view of taking the automakers into bankruptcy did not provide them with any way to stay open, and would have lost a million jobs in the process.
The candidates also spoke on energy and oil production, primarily in response to questions of recently spiking gas prices. The President pointed out that oil production on federal land is at its highest in 16 years and natural gas production is at its highest levels in decades. Romney responded by saying that overall oil production is down 14 percent as a result of cutting licenses for drilling. Additionally, Romney criticized Obama for blockage of the Keystone oil pipeline.
Surprisingly, yesterday’s bankruptcy filing of A123 Systems was not brought up, though Republicans, including Romney, have criticized the Obama administration’s investment in electric cars as well as grants and loans for battery makers. If Tuesday’s Chapter 11 filing was not mentioned last night, it will most certainly come up in the days and weeks to come.