fbeacon President Barack Obama has made the auto bailout a centerpiece of his reelection campaign, using it to bash Republican nominee Mitt Romney. But the tactic may backfire as the general election heats up, public opinion surveys suggest.
Recent polling from Rasmussen indicates that 59 percent view the bailouts as a “failure” and only 44 percent think the bailouts were “good for America.”
The administration has already written off $7 billion in taxpayer lossesin the American takeover of Chrysler and General Motors; those losses are expected to climb as high as $23 billion—27 percent of the $85 billion spent on the bailout.
While the bailout is widely credited with saving the two companies, increasing taxpayer losses have made it nearly as unpopular in 2012 as it was when Obama was elected. More than half of Americans still disapprove of the auto bailout compared with 61 percent in 2008.
That has not stopped Obama from using the bailout as a bludgeon against Romney, who backed bankruptcy measures, in a number of campaign speeches.
“We could have just kicked the problem down the road. The other option was to do absolutely nothing and let these companies fail,” Obama told the United Automobile Workers union in February. “And you will recall there were some politicians who said we should do that. Some even said we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’”
The line drew a chorus of boos from the crowd and Obama has used the talking point often in his recent campaign addresses. He has deployed the line in a number of speeches in front of friendly crowds, despite the surprising lack of enthusiasm among Democrats for the bailout.