News / USA

Obama Tours Auto Plants to Spotlight Industry Recovery

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid