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Entries in Auto Industry (7)

Wednesday
Aug222012

Vice President Joe Biden: ‘Detroit’s Getting Back Up’ Economically

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Revving up a crowd at a Detroit high school, Vice President Joe Biden offered up one of his father’s old adages to illustrate the tenacity the people of Detroit possess as their city works to recover from the crisis in the auto industry.

“My dad used to say you measure a man or woman – it wasn’t whether they got knocked down, but how quickly they got up. And guess what? Detroit’s getting back up,” Biden told an estimated crowd of 1,100 packed into a narrow hallway at Renaissance High School Wednesday.

Detroit’s unemployment rate remains more than a point above the national average, sitting at 9.7 percent in June, but over the past three years, the unemployment rate in the city has decreased dramatically from its 27.8-percent rate in July 2009. Michigan’s unemployment rate rose last month, jumping from 8.6 percent in June to nine percent in July.

Biden, who called Mitt Romney a “decent” man despite boos emanating from the crowd, knocked the presumptive GOP nominee for the 2008 New York Times op-ed he penned with the headline “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” saying that the president’s approach to dealing with the auto industry proved successful.

“In spite of Gov. Romney’s insistence that we let Detroit go bankrupt, we rescued the automobile industry,” Biden said.

The Romney campaign claimed Biden’s comments about Detroit’s turnaround are “out of touch.”

“For millions of middle-class families, Vice President Biden couldn’t be more out of touch with the state of the economy,” Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Romney, said in a statement. “After claiming yesterday, ‘the middle class is coming back,’ the vice president is now claiming that ‘Detroit is getting back up.’ But after nearly four years, middle-class families are struggling with lower income, fewer jobs, and increasing unemployment. The Romney-Ryan plan will provide 12 million new jobs, higher take-home pay and a brighter future for the middle class.”

While in Detroit Wednesday morning, the vice president had coffee with Michigan United Auto Workers leaders and, in the afternoon, he held two fundraisers in the Detroit area.

The vice president’s trip to Detroit came two days before Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, were set to campaign together in the state. A June NBC News/Marist Poll found President Obama ahead of Romney by four points.

The vice president shared the stage with a local phenom when he was introduced by Claressa Shields, a 17-year-old boxer from Flint, Mich., who won an Olympic gold medal in London earlier this month.

“We’ve had tough times in Michigan, but we never give up,” Shields said. “We just get up and keep going. We keep fighting with the president and vice president who’ve got our backs.”

While he attested to President Obama’s character with stories about their close relationship, the vice president also mentioned just how well he knew some of the other presidents.

“Folks, I can tell you I’ve known eight presidents, three of them intimately,” Biden said. “I have never, never once, in all the time I’ve been with this president … I’ve never once in the difficult decisions he’s had to make heard him ask me or anyone else, ‘What are the politics in this for me?’ Not one single time.”

Before departing the school, Biden posed for photos with the high school’s football team and offered them words of encouragement for their upcoming season.

“Hey guys, have a great season! Get up!” Biden said.

“Four more years!” one of the players shouted back.

“When you go to states, invite me. I’ll come!” Biden said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

Does President Obama Want to Take Over Other Industries?

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- It’s no secret President Obama is proud of the taxpayer-funded government intervention that rescued U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler back in 2009. He regularly takes credit for the companies’ resurgent profitability and hiring as one of his top achievements.

Now, Republicans say Obama is suggesting on the campaign trail that he wants to do it again, this time in other sectors of the economy, in order to “get the hand of government driving every industry in America.”

“From his failed stimulus bill and Solyndra-esque boondoggles to picking winners and losers at taxpayer expense in the auto bailout, President Obama has pushed aside free-market principles in favor of bigger and more intrusive government,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Thursday after Obama ended his Colorado campaign swing.

Saul and the Romney campaign point to a line Obama used this week on the stump when discussing the auto bailout and his economic vision for the future as the basis for the claim.

In Pueblo, Colo., on Thursday, Obama said, “Now, I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.”

Later in Colorado Springs, Colo., he put it this way: “I want to say what we did with the auto industry, we can do it in manufacturing across America.”

Republicans interpreted Obama as proposing government bailouts for other industries, or at the least a more active federal government role in creating or supporting jobs -- concepts anathema to many conservatives.

The Obama campaign refuted the notion as political spin that does not reflect the president’s sentiment or intention, pointing to full context of the quote as evidence.

Here’s what Obama said, in context:

OBAMA IN PUEBLO: “We’ve got a bunch of examples of the differences, the choice in this election.  When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, more than one million jobs at stake, Gov. Romney said, let’s ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’  I said I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back and GM is number one again.   So now, I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.  I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China.  I want them taking root in places like Pueblo.  Gov. Romney brags about his private sector experience, but it was mostly investing in companies, some of which were called “pioneers” of outsourcing.  I don’t want to be a pioneer of outsourcing.  I want to in-source.  I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.”

OBAMA IN COLORADO SPRINGS: “This difference in vision, it shows up on all sorts of issues.  When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, one million jobs at stake, Mr. Romney said, ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt.’  I said, let’s bet on America’s workers.  And we got management and workers to come together, making better cars than ever. And now, GM is number one again and the American auto industry has come roaring back.   So now, I want to say what we did with the auto industry, we can do it in manufacturing across America.  Let’s make sure advanced, high-tech manufacturing jobs take root here, not in China.  Let’s have them here in Colorado.  And that means supporting investment here.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Romney Takes Credit for Auto Industry Turnaround

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LANSING, Mich.) -- Just hours before making his return to his native state of Michigan where he will deliver a speech at a local university here, Mitt Romney reiterated his claim that he should be given credit for the resurgence of the auto industry, reigniting the debate over how the auto industry should have been helped and inviting criticism from Democrats dubbing the remark a “new low in dishonesty.”

“My own view, by the way, was that the auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before government help, and frankly that’s finally what the President did,” Romney said during an interview with ABC News’ Cleveland affiliate WEWS on Monday.  “He took them through bankruptcy. That was the right course I argued for from the very beginning. It was the AW and the President that delayed the idea of bankruptcy.”

“I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done and help was given, the companies got back on their feet, so I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back,” Romney told WEWS.

President’ Obama’s National Campaign Co-Chair – and member of the “Obama for America Truth Team” – former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland responded to Romney’s claim, writing in a statement, “Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,’ but the American people won’t let him. His comments today that he will ‘take a lot of credit that the [auto] industry has come back’ are a new low in dishonesty, even for him.”

“At the time the loan was extended, auto industry leaders were saying that they couldn’t keep the industry alive without a lifeline from the federal government,” said Strickland. “And so, the President did something politically unpopular at the time and he gave them a lifeline to restructure and because of his decision to do so, the industry is prospering and spurring growth across the nation.”

Romney has suggested before that the managed bankruptcy that the auto giants went through was his own idea, and did so explicitly in his controversial 2008 New York Times op-ed titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” in which he argued that a so-called “managed bankruptcy” would have resulted in a faster turnaround.

The auto bailout was funded with Wall Street bailout funds and begun under the Bush administration. Romney’s 2008 op-ed opposing it hasn’t always played well with Michigan residents, many of whom were relieved to see the industry saved, regardless of the means in which it was done.

But Romney has not backed down from his 2008 position. Just a few days prior to the Michigan primary earlier this year, he wrote another op-ed in the Detroit News that echoed many of those same messages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar052012

Federal Bankruptcy Judge: Bailout Was Only Way to Save Chrysler

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The federal judge who presided over Chrysler’s bankruptcy told ABC News in an exclusive interview that the ailing company could not have survived without taxpayer money.

“The record before the Court was clear that there were no other sources of lending,” said Arthur J. Gonzalez, who served as chief judge of the U.S. bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York.

The bailouts of GM and Chrysler remain a political hot potato in Midwestern states such as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, which are heavily dependent on the U.S. auto industry.

President Obama is taking credit for saving more than a million jobs because of the bailouts, while Republican candidates have voiced their opposition to the government loans.  GOP front-runner Mitt Romney insists, “It was the wrong way to go,” and that General Motors and Chrysler should have gone through “a private bankruptcy process.”

But Gonzalez, who retired from the federal bench on March 1, told ABC News: “One thing is clear, without government support in one fashion or another, there were no sources of funding.”

Gonzalez, now a law professor at New York University, said Chrysler -- then the weakest of the Big 3 automakers -- did not have the ability to secure financing on its own and “it was not generating sufficient cash to operate without an outside source of financing.”

During the 2009 bankruptcy, Chrysler closed dealers, shut factories and demanded pay cuts and other concessions from union autoworkers.  The United Auto Workers' retiree health fund took an ownership stake in return for more than $10 billion that Chrysler owed it.  Fiat, the Italian automaker, also got a stake for providing technology and agreeing to run the new company.  It later paid the U.S. Treasury nearly $2 billion to take majority ownership.

The former chief judge also denied that the speedy bankruptcy hearing somehow prevented private investors from stepping up, pointing out that the government and Chrysler’s creditors had been seeking a solution for 18 months, to no avail.

“The notion that the speed of the process may have missed a potential buyer has no basis in the record,” he said.

Now, the new Chrysler is accelerating on the road to recovery, earning $225 million in its most profitable quarter since emerging from bankruptcy.

The company has paid back all but $1.3 billion of the $12.5 billion that Uncle Sam loaned it under Presidents Bush and Obama.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan312012

Obama Touts Auto Industry Recovery at DC Auto Show

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hailing an economic recovery story that he hopes will propel him to re-election, President Obama declared Tuesday, “The U.S. auto industry is back.”

“When you look at all these cars, it is testimony to the outstanding work that’s been done by workers — American workers, American designers,” the president said in a surprise visit to the Washington Auto Show Tuesday afternoon.

While he did not mention Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney by name, Obama, who has made his efforts to rescue Chrysler and General Motors a key part of his campaign strategy, was quick to point out that some people opposed the auto industry bailout.

“It’s good to remember the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die,” Obama said. Romney has criticized the bailout, saying it “was the wrong way to go” and that the companies should have gone through bankruptcy instead.

Touring the latest electric and hybrid American-made models in the showroom Tuesday, the president, who is forbidden from driving by the Secret Service, was practically giddy to get behind the wheel.

“This is a classic here,” the president said with a grin as he sat in the driver’s seat of a bright blue Ford sports car. “This is what I needed in high school.”

“This was the first new car I ever bought,” a nostalgic Obama said as he surveyed a cherry red Jeep.

But it was the Corvette that really won the president over. “I got to get in the Corvette,” Obama said eagerly. “How fast does this thing go?”

“I had a friend who had a Corvette. He let me drive it one time. One time,” Obama said wistfully.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct142011

Obama, Lee Praise US-Korea Trade Deal as ‘Win-Win’ in Detroit

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- President Obama traveled to Detroit Friday to tout the success of his administration’s bailout of the auto industry and to highlight the job-creating potential of the newly-passed Korean trade deal. However, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who was along for the field trip, clearly stole the show.

Wearing a bright blue Detroit Tigers baseball hat, Lee walked on stage at the General Motors plant in Lake Orion, Mich., to cheers and applause.

“As you can see, President Lee is a pretty good politician,” Obama joked. “He knows how to get on your good side.”

Lee, a former Hyundai CEO, highlighted how the trade deal will help revive the American auto industry and reassured workers that the agreement will not ship their jobs overseas.

“I am here with President Obama today because I want to give this promise to you, and that is that the KORUS FTA will not take away any of your jobs; rather, it will create more jobs for you and your families, and it is going to protect your jobs.  And this is the pledge that I give you today,” Lee said.

“Motor City is going to come back again, and it’s going to revive its past glory.  And I have all the confidence in the world that you are going to do that,” he added.

Obama agreed, saying the pact was a “win-win” for both countries that will ultimately “lead to more jobs, more opportunity for both nations.”

“Even though, you know, he’s a Hyundai guy,” Obama said of Lee. “If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais from Korea, then I know Koreans should be able to buy some Fords and Chryslers and Chevys that are made right here in the United States of America.”     

The day after their official state visit at the White House, Obama and Lee spent the afternoon touring the GM facility where the Chevrolet Sonic is manufactured, a car that was originally engineered for GM Korea. The White House asserts that the Orion plant, which was scheduled to close its doors two years ago during GM’s bankruptcy restructuring, was brought back from the brink by a joint venture with GM Korea, ultimately saving the jobs of the 1,750 workers.

The subcompact car went on to become the first that GM has built in the U.S. in over 40 years and the only one sold in the country that is built in the U.S.

Touting the success of his decision to bail out the auto industry, Obama said: “Two years ago, it looked like this plant was going to have to shut its doors. All these jobs would have been lost; the entire community would have been devastated.  And the same was true for communities all across the Midwest.  And I refused to let that happen."

“When I took office, I was determined to rebuild this economy based on what this country has always done best:  not just buying and consuming, but building, making things, selling those goods all around the world stamped with three proud words:  ‘made in America.’” Obama added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug182011

Auto Industry Predictions Too Optimistic?  

Comstock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- This was supposed to be the year for a major turnaround in U.S. auto sales. Now, those predictions are being tempered. The big, bold voice of the automakers has been drowned out in the last few weeks by a stock market that threatens to cut into consumer spending on things like cars and trucks.

Earlier predictions of auto sales topping $13.5 million this year now seem overly optimistic. One positive is that banks are loosening up on lending, and that may convince some Americans that it's time to replace that old car.  

But one report issued Thursday by consulting firm A.T. Kearney says that auto sales should return to normal in 2012, according to USA Today.  The firm says potential buyers will get back to spending for new vehicles, including those who put off buying during the recession.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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