News / USA

Obama Tours Auto Plants to Spotlight Industry Recovery

Multimedia

President Barack Obama visited two automobile manufacturing plants near Detroit, Michigan, to spotlight progress made in helping the U.S. auto industry recover from near collapse.  

From the brink of collapse, when President Obama took office and forced the government to step in to support General Motors and Chrysler, the auto industry has made steady progress.

The administration points to statistics showing that after huge job losses linked to the U.S. financial crisis, auto industry job growth is on track to be the strongest in more than a decade, adding 55,000 jobs since the middle of 2009.

The president was welcomed to the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant, where the car company employs just over 2,800 workers.

Rather than simply bailing out auto companies, or doing nothing to hasten their complete collapse, Mr. Obama said he chose to give workers, management and unions the chance to reorganize and be more competitive. "I placed that faith in you and all of America's auto workers, and you have vindicated that belief.  The fact that we're standing in this magnificent factory today is a testament to the decisions we made and the sacrifices that you and countless stakeholders across this industry and this country were willing to make," he said.

Introducing the president was Leah Soehartono, a 42-year-old auto insurance accountant who said she went from being unemployed for two years to obtaining a job with Chrysler. "I am confident that the economy is improving and that the success I have achieved is obtainable and possible for others to achieve in these hard economic times," he said.

Later, the president toured the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, which is producing the Chevrolet Volt, a gasoline-electric vehicle.

With a price of $41,000 per car, it remains to be seen whether Americans will choose to purchase the Volt over offerings by other car-makers, such as Nissan's all-electric vehicle, the 'Leaf'.

Before the president's trip, Ron Bloom, senior advisor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, told reporters at the White House that the government, with holds a 61 percent share of General Motors, has refused to get involved in pricing decisions. "I'm not going to get into a debate about whether General Motors, on this particular matter, has the correct business strategy.  There are dozens and dozens of business decisions they make every day.  They believe that people will buy this car in the sufficient number that they are manufacturing," he said.

President Obama's auto plant visits in Detroit, and another next week to a Ford company plant in Chicago, have a dual purpose.  

They are pep talks for an industry critical to economic recovery, and also platforms the president uses as he ramps up campaigning for Democrats in Congress ahead of the November mid-term congressional election.

In his remarks on Friday, Mr. Obama pointed to suggestions by those he called "naysayers" and the "just say no crowd" -- a reference to some opposition Republicans who asserted that auto companies should be allowed to fail. "They said we should just walk away and let those jobs go.  I wish they were standing here today.  I wish they could see what I am seeing in this plant and talk to the workers who are here taking pride in building a world-class vehicle.  I don't think they would be willing to look you in the eye and see you were a bad investment," he said.

While Mr. Obama said more work remains to bring the auto industry back, he also had some blunt talk for auto workers in Detroit, saying that while the industry is growing stronger, many jobs that were lost will not return.

To address that, the administration is focusing attention on its efforts to switch the nation to clean energy and the job growth it says would come with this, including training for unemployed auto workers.

Related Report by Carolyn Presutti

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs