Fact Checking Romney and GM on Job Creation Claims

General Motors is criticizing Mitt Romney for running an ad that says GM cut 15,000 jobs under the Obama Administration. The Detroit Free Press reported that GM spokesman Greg Martin (speaking about the Romney ad) stated, “No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”

Leaving aside for a moment the bigger issue of a taxpayer-supported entity improperly inserting itself in an election, lets examine the facts. A look at GM’s annual SEC filings gives a clear picture of how many people were employed by the company both before and after the Obama Administration guided the company through a bankruptcy process.

At the beginning of 2009, GM employed 91,000 workers in the US. GM filed for bankruptcy in June of 2009 and received about $50 billion from taxpayers to help it through the process. At the beginning of 2012, GM employed 77,000 workers in America. OK, that math gives us a loss of 14,000 jobs instead of the 15,000 Romney claimed, but you have to give this one to Romney.

The numbers look even worse for GM if you add in all the jobs at dealerships that were lost as a result of the Obama Auto Task Force decision to shutter about 1,500 GM showrooms. Approximately 65,000 jobs are estimated to have been eliminated as the Obama team decided that non-union jobs were not quite as important as UAW jobs. Either way, when you look at the numbers, the claims that GM has created so many jobs and that Obama has saved a million jobs in the auto bailouts lose credibility.

As far as the Romney ad’s other claim that GM will be creating jobs in China, I don’t think that it is a secret that GM intents to focus on China for growth. The growth hasn’t materialized, but GM CEO Dan Akerson has called China GM’s “crown jewel.” The facts on this one remain in Romney’s corner, despite so-called fact checking by liberal sources that try to disguise themselves as legitimate purveyors of truth.

The GM story comes after the Fiat / Chrysler / Jeep outsourcing controversy that saw Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne being for outsourcing of Chrysler vehicles before he was against it and then for it again. Talk about flip-flopping! The first Bloomberg reports that started the fire were clear on the fact that Chrysler’s Italian parent company, Fiat, was planning to build at least some Jeeps overseas for export back to America. Chrysler and Fiat then denied the stories. However, Marchionne further made it clear on Fiat’s earnings conference call that outsourcing Chrysler products was, in his words, “part of the plan and I think it’s something we should develop.” Marchionne set the benchmark to do so at a savings of at least $1 in production costs. Again, while Romney’s opponents make accusations that false rumors are being spread about possible Chrysler outsourcing, the facts support the claims.

It is evident that GM and Chrysler are coming out to support the president after having received billions of taxpayer dollars from him. The Detroit Free Press, which just days ago endorsed Obama, has been one of the sources to spread reports denying any possible Chrysler outsourcing. While the organization was quick to spread a story that Romney was not telling the truth about Fiat wanting to outsource Jeeps, they just came out with a story about “The Ambitious Plan to Strengthen Fiat” which stated that, “Sergio Marchionne outlined a plan to export new Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Jeep models from Italy to prevent plants from closing, protect Italian jobs and reduce Fiat’s dependence on Chrysler’s profits in the U.S.” That’s right, from the same organization that vehemently denied Jeeps would be outsourced, they are now calling the plan to build and export the cars from Italy “ambitious.”

Obama’s auto bailouts have set a dangerous precedent and put the country in an unusual situation. Companies that were once run without government intrusion have been given billions of taxpayer dollars and are now coming out in support of the president that gave them the money. The UAW had made its alliance with Obama clear for some time, but GM and Chrysler seem to be trying to influence the elections at this late date. Fiat has also been a major recipient of goodwill from the president as they were given their initial stake in Chrysler at no monetary cost. They only had to transfer some of their technology to get in on the handout. And now American jobs are at risk as Fiat has made clear that their loyalties are with their homeland. And those are the facts.

Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.