The American auto industry has a real problem: it's doing so well, it's struggling to make enough cars.
Automakers are pushing factories and workers to the limit to try to meet burgeoning demand for new vehicles.
Some plants are adding third work shifts. Others are piling on worker overtime and six-day weeks. And Ford Motor and Chrysler Group are cutting out or reducing the annual two-week July shutdown at several plants this summer to add thousands of vehicles to their output.
"We have many plants working at maximum capacity now," says Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans.
Manufacturers are adding working hours and hiring new workers.
There is, of course, a political angle to all of this. It was, after all, just two weeks ago that Mitt Romney boasted, "I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back."
It's credit he doesn't deserve, but President Obama does.
Just to recap, Romney has said, publicly and repeatedly, that he opposed Obama's industry rescue plan -- the one he now wants credit for. The former governor has said repeatedly that GM and Chrysler should rely on private funding to restructure and get back on their feet.
Of course, in early 2009, the credit markets were frozen and there was no private funding available. (When a company called Bain Capital was approached, it refused to invest.) How does Romney reconcile his demands with reality? For the last three years, he hasn't even tried to explain the contradiction. In fact, he'd prefer if we just overlook the details altogether.
We can say a couple of things with certainty. First, when President Obama launched his ambitious policy in 2009, he was taking a major gamble -- not only with the backbone of American manufacturing, but with his presidency and its ability to use the power of government to repair a private industry facing collapse. As First Read noted at the time, "As the GM bailout goes, so goes the Obama presidency."
We now know the gamble paid off. GM and Chrysler are making money, expanding American facilities, and operating at capacity. It's a remarkable success story and one of Obama's most important domestic accomplishments. Republicans were absolutely certain the White House's policy would fail, and they were wrong.
Second, we also know that if policymakers had followed Romney's advice, and waited for private financing, the American auto industry likely would have collapsed while waiting for capital that simply wasn't available. An economy that was already on the brink would have been forced to absorb hundreds of thousands of unemployed auto workers, crushing already-struggling communities in the Midwest.