July 31st, 2010
10:29 AM ET
8 years ago

Obama touts auto industry turn around, pushes for small biz help

Washington (CNN) - President Obama used his weekly internet and radio address to discuss the auto industry's future and to press for passage of the Small Business Jobs Act, a measure which Obama says Senate Republicans are blocking.

Related: Republican says Obama's agenda hurts small businesses

(Read Obama's full remarks after the jump)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Detroit, Michigan

Hello everyone. I’m speaking to you from the GM auto plant here in Detroit, Michigan, where a hopeful story is unfolding in a place that’s been one of the hardest hit in America.

In the twelve months before I took office, American auto companies lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Sales plunged 40 percent. Liquidation was a very real possibility. Years of papering over tough problems and failing to adapt to changing times – combined with a vicious economic crisis – brought an industry that’s been the symbol of our manufacturing might for a century to the brink of collapse.

We didn’t have many good options. On one hand, we could have continued the practice of handing out billions of taxpayer dollars to the auto industry with no real strings attached. On the other hand, we could have walked away and allowed two major auto companies to go out of business – which could have wiped out one million American jobs.

I refused to let that happen. So we came up with a third way. We said to the auto companies – if you’re willing to make the hard decisions necessary to adapt and compete in the 21st century, we’ll make a one-time investment in your future.

Of course, if some folks had their way, none of this would be happening at all. This plant might not exist. There were leaders of the “just say no” crowd in Washington who argued that standing by the auto industry would guarantee failure. One called it “the worst investment you could possibly make.” They said we should just walk away and let these jobs go.

Today, the men and women in this plant are proving these cynics wrong. Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, our auto industry has added 55,000 jobs – the strongest period of job growth in more than ten years. For the first time since 2004, all three American automakers are operating at a profit. Sales have begun to rebound. And plants like this that wouldn’t have existed if all of us didn’t act are now operating maximum capacity.

What’s more, thanks to our investments, a lot of these auto companies are reinventing themselves to meet the demands of a new age. At this plant, they’re hard at work building the high-quality, fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow – cars like the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt that can run 40 miles before taking a sip of gasoline. Throughout Michigan, an advanced battery industry is taking root that will power clean electric cars – an industry that produced only 2 percent of the world’s advanced batteries last year, but will now be able to produce as much as 40 percent in a little over five years. That’s real progress.

There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do before folks here and across the country can feel whole again. But what’s important is that we’re finally beginning to see some of the tough decisions we made pay off. And if we had listened to the cynics and the naysayers – if we had simply done what the politics of the moment required – none of this progress would have happened.

Still, even as these icons of American industry are being reborn, we also need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s small businessmen and women, as well - particularly since they’re the ones who create most of the new jobs in this country.

As we work to rebuild our economy, I can’t imagine anything more common-sense than giving additional tax breaks and badly-needed lending assistance to America’s small business owners so they can grow and hire. That’s what we’re trying to do with the Small Business Jobs Act – a bill that has been praised as being good for small businesses by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. It’s a bill that includes provision after provision authored by both Democrats and Republicans. But yesterday, the Republican leaders in the Senate once again used parliamentary procedures to block it. Understand, a majority of Senators support the plan. It’s just that the Republican leaders in the Senate won’t even allow it to come up for a vote.

That isn’t right. And I’m calling on the Republican leaders in the Senate to stop holding America’s small businesses hostage to politics, and allow an up-or-down vote on this small business jobs bill.

At a time when America is just starting to move forward again, we can’t afford the do-nothing policies and partisan maneuvering that will only take us backward. I won’t stand here and pretend everything’s wonderful. I know that times are tough. But what I also know is that we’ve made it through tough times before. And we’ll make it through again. The men and women hard at work in this plant make me absolutely confident of that.

So to all the naysayers out there, I say this: Don’t ever bet against the American people. Because we don’t take the easy way out. That’s not how we deal with challenge. That’s not how we build this country into the greatest economic power the world has ever known. We did it by summoning the courage to persevere, and adapt, and push this country forward, inch by inch. That’s the spirit I see in this plant today, and as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I will keep fighting alongside you until we reach a better day.


Filed under: issues • President Obama
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Hugo

    Turn around at whose expense ? Let's consider reality dembots, billions in bailouts, Chrysler common share holders shtuped by the Obama Administration, Unions propped up on our tax dollars all while FORD moves ahead without Obamanomics... Who won job creation and how much does each of those jobs cost everyone else. This is like the dog chasing its tail... I am not sure what to think anymore about any of this. I do know that come November I want change and I mean change to our political system, both sides. It has nothing to do with race, it has to do with being a tax payer, being unemployed and being tired of carrying DC on my paycheck.

    July 31, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Victim of Puritan Wingnuts

    The Big 3 still seem to suffer from a lack of strategic vision and mismanagement. The Republican bean-counters blame the unions and have no clue. Stop producing such hideous SUV's that get horrible mpg and hog-up the whole road. Also the GM Volt is WAAAAAAY too expensive. 40K is totally ridiculous. Even 30K is crazy when you can get a Prius for only 25K. It makes no sense.

    July 31, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Peter s

    "Once again, our thanks to this President for saving jobs and helping to bring pride and excellence back to the American auto industry. Mostly, thanks to him for understanding and trying, in spite of obstructionism from republicans, to do what is necessary to heal our economy and to bring our nation forward into the 21st Century." THANKS ANNIE S, you nailed it!!!!

    July 31, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. Willa-PA

    The word NO will bite the repubs in the backside eventually, just watch. Even mainstream republicans will wake up when it comes to their own pocket books. The rich never will though.

    July 31, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. dawit

    z fight is b/n reallists & republicants I know now why z prev s/power had diminished Its people must've allowed its own rip/cants Different is zis's USA,based its politics on humanity's common good So sad

    July 31, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. George of the jungle

    The president is trying to help small business get on their feet and the repos keep spouting off the same old tired nonsense,Wise up people. Repos don;t care about you not unless they can make a profit of you.

    July 31, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    @"marxist..."@Keith in Austin, whatever business YOU are in, I hope that Congress RAISES your taxes to the point where you have to 'pawn' your computers just to have something to eat. Your consistant rhetoric classifies you as those 'ignorant voters' who are victims of right wing propaganda vile.

    July 31, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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