FACT CHECK: Flunking geography, history
THE FACTS: It’s true that Romney didn’t preach liquidation of GM and Chrysler and that he saw his approach as a way to save the auto companies. But his was an improbable course. Opposing a government bailout, Romney instead favored private loans to finance the automakers’ restructuring in bankruptcy court. His proposed government loan guarantees would only have come after the companies went through bankruptcy. At the time, however, both automakers were nearly out of cash and were bad credit risks. The banking system was in crisis and private money wasn’t available. So without hefty government aid, the assets of both companies probably would have been sold in liquidation auctions.
ROMNEY on SYRIA: ‘‘What I'm afraid of is we've watched over the past year or so, first the president saying, ‘Well, we'll let the U.N. deal with it.’ And Assad — excuse me, Kofi Annan — came in and said we’re going to try to have a cease-fire. That didn’t work. Then it went to the Russians and said, ‘Let’s see if you can do something.’ We should be playing the leadership role there.’’
OBAMA: ‘‘We are playing the leadership role.’’
THE FACTS: Under Obama, the United States has taken a lead in trying to organize Syria’s splintered opposition, even if the U.S. isn’t interested in military intervention or providing direct arms support to the rebels. The administration has organized dozens of meetings in Turkey and the Middle East aimed at rallying Syria’s political groups and rebel formations to agree on a common vision for a democratic future after Syrian President Bashar Assad is defeated. And Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought dozens of nations together as part of the Friends of Syria group to combine aid efforts to Syria’s opposition and help it win the support of as many as Syrians as possible. The U.S. also is involved in vetting recipients of military aid from America’s Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Romney is partly right in pointing out Obama’s failure to win U.N. support for international action in Syria. But the Friends of Syria group has helped bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and other forms of assistance to Syrian civilians and the political opposition.
OBAMA: ‘‘What I would not have had done was left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. And that certainly would not help us in the Middle East.’’ THE FACTS: Obama was suggesting that he had never favored keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the December 2011 withdrawal deadline that the Bush administration had negotiated with the Iraqi government. Actually, the Obama administration tried for many months to win Iraqi agreement to keeping several thousand American troops there beyond 2011 to continue training and advising the Iraqi armed forces. The talks broke down over a disagreement on legal immunity for U.S. troops.
ROMNEY: ‘‘We have an enormous trade imbalance with China, and it’s worse this year than last year and it’s worse last year than the year before.’’
THE FACTS: That’s true as far as it goes but the imbalance is far from unique to the Obama years. The U.S. has run a trade deficit with China since 1985 and the gap has widened nearly every year since. According to Chinese customs data, Beijing reported a $181.3 billion trade surplus with the United States in 2010. That grew to $202.3 billion last year. The surplus for the first nine months of this year was $161.9 billion, well ahead of the level at this point in 2011.
OBAMA: ‘‘You are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas. And, you know, that’s your right. I mean, that’s how our free market works.’’
THE FACTS: Bain Capital, the private equity company that Romney ran from 1984 to 2001, did invest in several companies that shifted American jobs and operations from the U.S. to China and other foreign nations. In one instance in 1998, Bain bought a 10 percent investment stake in Global-Tech, a Hong Kong firm that used mainland Chinese factories to make toasters and other appliances for U.S. manufacturers that were phasing out American operations and jobs. Romney held full Bain partnership stakes in that deal before the firm sold its holding later that year. Bain also invested in several firms that outsourced to Mexico in the early 2000s, but by then Romney had begun shifting away from Bain to a role running the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. And in almost all of these cases, it remains unclear how much oversight Bain had in the overseas shifts. The Romney campaign has said that Romney’s holdings were mostly passive in nature, particularly after he left the firm.Continued...