Why Does Mitt Hate Profit?

[I posted substantially this post yesterday, but the BlogGods ate it along the way. So I'm reposting.]

Along with the deceitful attack on Italians who make better car company owners than GOP Private Equity types and the Lee Iacocca spin, Mitt has rolled out a radio version of attack on the auto bailout. From Greg Sargent, here’s part of the script:

Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry. But for who? Ohio, or China? Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs. But they are planning to double the number of cars built in China — which means 15,000 more jobs for China.

And now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making jeeps in — you guessed it — China. What happened to the promises made to autoworkers in Toledo and throughout Ohio — the same hard-working men and women who were told that Obama’s auto bailout would help them?

The ad continues Mitt’s deceptive insinuation that GM and Chrysler aren’t also adding jobs in the US, which they are doing.

But it does something else. It takes a decidedly anti-profit stance.

You see, there are two reasons car companies are so gung-ho to enter (or re-enter, in the case of Jeep) the Chinese market. First, because it’s growing; when I was working in China, auto people considered the rising Chinese middle class to be 300 million–almost an entire US full of population. And most of them were just aspiring to buy their first car. That’s a whole lot of first time car buyers to sell to, as compared to US consumers, who are driving less and replacing their cars at a slower pace given more durable cars.

The other reason to go to China? Profit margins are bigger there than here. When I was in Shanghai in the mid-2000s, the profit margin on Buick Regals was about $2,000, as compared to the roughly $200 profit margin on a similar car here. The margins are closer now (because manufacturing in the US has gotten cheaper and in China has gotten more expensive), but China still offers good profit margins. Selling Buick Regals or Jeeps in China allows GM and Chrysler to accept lower margins on cars here.

By selling high margin cars in China, US companies can be more competitive here, meaning they will be able to expand sales and therefore production here, too.

All this is implicit in Sergio Marchionne’s response to Mitt’s ignorant rantings.

Together, we are working to establish a global enterprise and previously announced our intent to return Jeep production to China, the world’s largest auto market, in order to satisfy local market demand, which would not otherwise be accessible. Chrysler Group is interested in expanding the customer base for our award-winning Jeep vehicles, which can only be done by establishing local production. This will ultimately help bolster the Jeep brand,and solidify the resilience of U.S. jobs.

Marchionne notes 1) you can’t sell in China unless you build in China, 2) selling in China makes the Jeep brand stronger, 3) making the Jeep brand (and its profit margins) stronger makes it easier to keep up US production.

Marchionne’s implicit point should be where this discussion is heading: free trade hasn’t worked out to be fair trade. China–and Japan and Korea–still protect their markets, meaning if you want to sell there, you’ve got to make cars there.

Mitt has promised to get tough on China. But his series of auto ads have made no mention–not a peep!–of how he’ll reverse this practice and make it possible for Jeep to export cars made in Toledo. Indeed, when Obama launched a trade dispute over auto parts in September, Mitt scoffed at the effort (and ignored Obama’s decent and sustained effort launching trade disputes, one of which pertaining to specialty steel recently won at the WTO).

“The president may think that announcing new trade lawsuits less than two months before the election will distract from his record, but American businesses and workers struggling on an uneven playing field know better,” Mr. Romney said in a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.

Mitt Romney wants to attack American companies for going where profits are. And he’s doing so without discussing why that’s necessary.

That makes him neither a tough guy nor a good businessman.

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2 Responses to Why Does Mitt Hate Profit?

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz Who's going to pay for the latest Iraq war? http://t.co/6qf0l297rX And why do so called "fiscal hawk" GOP not seem to care? #WarProfiteers
16mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV @DougWilliams85 My sleeper candidate is The Sandbaggers on BBC early 80's. Spy stuff in London. Great series.
37mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV Are turtles allowed to be Speaker of the House? Ask @realDonaldTrump
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JimWhiteGNV RT @AlisonForKY: Thank you @realdonaldtrump for firing @Team_Mitch and running him for "Speaker." Kentucky needs a new Senator. #kysen
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JimWhiteGNV RT @AdamWeinstein: Al Lawson moves to advance all four FSU presidential finalists to the Board of Trustees. Lawson's aim is to keep Thrashe…
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JimWhiteGNV RT @thekarami: On July 26, 1988, less than a week after the ceasefire agreement, Saddam invaded Iran again, this time as support for the ME…
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JimWhiteGNV Any truth to the rumor that @NRA plans to hold a funeral for the 800 rounds of ammo found in White House fence-jumper's trunk?
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @benjaminwittes ...and the Govt's lethal intentions as to Khan are entirely imaginary. Or, you know, not so much. cc: @mattapuzzo
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bmaz @benjaminwittes Right, and THAT is the key. Govt specifically+intentionally refused to say "we didn't know". I am sure just an oversight...
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bmaz @GrantWoods @ScottGreenfield ...that comment emanated out of. And I too have noticed fmr prosecutors changing tune 180º when turn def attys.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @GrantWoods @ScottGreenfield In fairness, I think you likely missed the conversation regarding abusive civil forfeiture+parallel proceedings
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JimWhiteGNV RT @SusieMadrak: America, where a golden bull is protected by cops against protesters who might hurt capitalism's feelings. #FloodWallStreet
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