While Obama’s poll numbers remain down from last year, there has been good news this week. Following a poor roll out, the number of people obtaining health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act has jumped significantly, and the number should grow as two deadlines for January coverage and for avoiding penalties approach. Another major success of the Obama administration was seen this week without very much attention. The government sold its last shares in General Motors. Beyond the obvious benefits to General Motors and the Michigan economy, this was a financial success for the government when tax revenue and money saved on unemployment claims is taken into consideration.
This is also a philosophical victory. Despite record corporate profits and stock market gains under Obama, many on the right wing persist in calling him a socialist. The government investment in General Motors, called by conservatives Government Motors, was a major part of this argument. I recall many conspiracy theories on conservative blogs which predicted that by now the government would have completely nationalized General Motors and moved on to other companies. Of course to those in touch with reality, it was clear that the Obama administration saw involvement in General Motors as a desperation measure, and not something they desired to do.
Conspiracy theories of further nationalization of the means of production were not limited to fringe bloggers. Via Steve Benen, Think Progress collected these predictions in 2010. Not all are as extreme in predicting socialism, but all were wrong:
Rep. John Boehner (R-OH): “Does anyone really believe that politicians and bureaucrats in Washington can successfully steer a multi-national corporation to economic viability?” [6/1/09]
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL): “It’s basically going to be a government-owned, government-run company. …It’s the road toward socialism.” [5/29/09]
RNC Chairman Michael Steele: “No matter how much the President spins GM’s bankruptcy as good for the economy, it is nothing more than another government grab of a private company and another handout to the union cronies who helped bankroll his presidential campaign.” [6/1/2009]
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC): “Now the government has forced taxpayers to buy these failing companies without any plausible plan for profitability. Does anyone think the same government that plans to double the national debt in five years will turn GM around in the same time?” [6/2/09]
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA): “Unfortunately, this is just another sad chapter in President Obama’s eager campaign to interject his administration in the private sector’s business dealings.” [6/2/09]
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX): The auto company rescues “have been the leading edge of the Obama administration’s war on capitalism.” [7/22/09]
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ): When government gets involved in a company, “the disaster that follows is predictable.” [7/22/09]
Steve also added this prediction from Mitt Romney:
To put it mildly, this isn’t what Romney expected. In 2009, Mr. “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” was so certain Obama’s policy would fail, he said Americans could “kiss the American automotive industry goodbye” if the administration’s policy was implemented. Indeed, at the time, Romney called the White House plan “tragic” and “a very sad circumstance for this country.” He wrote an April 2009 piece in which he said Obama’s plan “would make GM the living dead.”