In February GM announced it would lay off 800 workers at its Lordstown assembly plant complex in Warren, Ohio. Last December GM cut the third shift at the plant, eliminating 900 jobs. The summer of 2008 over 4,000 people worked on three shifts at the plant. President Obama spoke to the plant’s workers on Tuesday.
Obama told the workers, “This plant is about to shift into higher gear. 150 of your coworkers came back to work yesterday. More than 1,000 will be coming back to work in less than three weeks as production of the Cobalt ramps up. And next year, this plant will begin production of the Chevy Cruze, a new car that will get more than 40 miles per gallon.”
As Obama spoke to the plant’s workers, he reminded them and his detractors about the economic crisis he “walked into eight months ago.” Obama said the economic crisis “was so bad that experts of all political persuasions feared a second coming of the Great Depression.” He pointed out that his administration “took bold swift action to make sure that didn’t happen” by passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February.
Obama pointed out what his administration did to help people in Ohio. “We cut taxes for 95 percent of America’s working families – 4.5 million families in Ohio alone…we extended unemployment benefits – a measure that made a difference for 12 million Americans, including 570,000 right here in Ohio.”
Obama brought up the auto bailout. He said, “I didn’t run for President to manage auto companies… I wasn’t going to put any more tax dollars on the line if it meant perpetuating the bad business decisions that led to this point.” Obama said that if the auto industry collapsed, “enormous damage” would have been done to the economy.” He added that the auto bailout occurred “for one simple and compelling reason: your survival and the success of our economy depended on it.”
Bringing up the Cash for Clunkers program, Obama said that the Chevy Cobalt, built at the Ohio plant, was “one of GM’s most sought-after cars that program.”
In May, Obama revealed a new fuel efficiency standard that requires vehicles to get 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Obama referred to the standard as aiming “at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in America.” The standard gives “our auto companies some long-overdue clarity, stability, and predictability.”