Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Morning in Detroit

The Superbowl ad, Half-time in America, has caused some controversy and with good reason. The ad compliments President Obama's State of the Union speech where he took credit for Chrysler's resurgence and for an increase in manufacturing in America. The ad is also reminiscent of President Reagan's 1984 reelection ad, Morning in America. The big difference of course, is that the Reagan campaign paid for Morning in America but Chrysler paid for Half-time in America (with money lent to them by the US government).

Obama's opponents are dismayed at seeing an ad that helps Obama be paid for by a corporation.

The ad is also more than a little misleading. Like the other Chrysler ads run over the last year, it implies that this is an American company making cars in Detroit. The Obama administration sold Chrysler to Fiat, an Italian company and they have plants in Canada and Mexico as well as in the US.

It is also relevant that some of Obama's advisers wanted to see Chrysler closed in order to give more business to GM. Chrysler is the smaller of the two companies and had been losing money for years before the downturn. We still do not know if Fiat can make a long-term go of Chrysler.

And let's not forget that without President Bush's bailout, Chrysler would have been out of business before Obama came to office.

One final point - Ford produced some ads trumpeting that they recovered without government assistance. The White House made them pull these ads. If we are going to have car companies running ads giving the country pep talks based on government assistance then their competitors should be free to run ads trumpeting that they did not need a bailout.

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