Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jim Renacci Loses Dealership; Incoherently Politicizes It

Republican Congressional Candidate Jim Renacci has announced that his GM dealership in Wadsworth will close. OK, not so much "announced" as "turned into a bizarre, internally contradictory campaign talking point." His press release, reproduced here on ANN, asserts the following:

    The GOP candidate for the 16th Congressional District is closing the doors to his Wadsworth car business -- a casualty, he says in a news release, of GM's deal with Uncle Sam.

    Today, Jim Renacci announced that his Wadsworth Chevrolet dealership, which was targeted for closure following the government takeover of General Motors in 2009, will close its doors next month. Renacci was first notified in May of 2009 that the dealership was one of over a thousand nationwide that would be terminated.

    * * *

    Renacci stepped in and acquired it in an effort to save local jobs and shortly thereafter he successfully stabilized the once troubled business. Nevertheless, Renacci's franchise was ultimately dismantled as a result of the government takeover of GM.

    "When the Obama administration first made clear its intention to take over General Motors and to dictate to small business owners whether or not they could continue to operate privately owned businesses"”which in some cases had been their family's livelihood for over 50 years, I feared we were witnessing one of the darkest days in American capitalism. And today, as I was forced to face my employees and tell them that we lost the fight and they've lost their jobs"”it was clear that my fears were not misplaced. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to overcome the government's "˜restructuring plan' from the outside"”but I am now left even more committed to restructuring our government's plans from the inside," Renacci said.
Wow. We have so much wrongness here it's like on of those "How many mistakes can you find in this picture" puzzles.

Take just the opening graf in which he claims the dealership is a casualty of GM's deal with the government. I think he's overstating the extent to which the government dictated dealer closures as a condition of the bailout. It's more like the bailout enabled closures that the company wanted to make. When the closures were announced, it was GM brass insisting that they needed to trim their overextended dealer network to cut costs and right size the company. It's car companies that are now fighting state efforts to pass dealer protection laws.

But more fundamentally than that, if GM hadn't made the "deal with Uncle Sam" Renacci would have lost his franchise anyway because there wouldn't be a GM any more. The choice wasn't between a bailout and running the company a different way, it was between a bailout and no more GM. Most of the time when Republicans criticize the bailout they are at least honest enough to acknowledge that GM would have gone bust, they just dispute the administration's assessment that it would have wrecked the economy.

The coherent criticisms of the bailouts have either maintained that free market principles are so important that the risk of big firms folding is worth it, or argued that the bailouts were too kind to the companies -- that they didn't put austerity conditions on the bailed out firms. Renacci seems to have found a third way -- the government should cut spending everywhere except that it should provide unconditional bailouts where they would benefit him personally.

Finally Renacci's little snit goes against his whole campaign theme. In his latest KNR ads he avers that when times are tough, you have to tighten your belt. Well, if GM is going to tighten its belt, it needs to shed some tonnage. Belt tightening isn't as much fun to talk about when you are the fat that gets trimmed, eh Jim?

Credit where it's due, at least he didn't revive the debunked conspiracy theory about only Republican dealerships getting axed.

In case you thought Milo Minderbinder in Catch-22 was too broad brush, no. He's alive and well and running for Congress in the Ohio 16th.


rootvg said...

That dealership had been a fixture in Wadsworth for years.

What do you want to bet he puts an import franchise there? The old Ellis Chevrolet in downtown San Francisco is selling used cars right now but the owner is supposedly fielding offers from Hyundai and Volkswagen, which are brands on the upswing in the Bay Area. I could also possibly see Subaru dealer making it there.