Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 15, 2012
Remarks by the Vice President on the Automotive Industry
UAW Local 12, Main Hall
11:18 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, folks, how are you? Hello, Toledo. Good to see you all. Please excuse my back. I apologize.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you.
Well, I want to tell you — let’s start off by congratulating Marcy Kaptur for two more years. (Applause.) And, Shelley, when the Secret Service used to let me drive — they don’t let Presidents or Vice Presidents drive. When I used to drive, I drove those Jeeps you built. My daughter still drives a Jeep. (Applause.)
And, Marcy, I wish my dad had owned a dealership. He didn’t, he managed it. If he owned it, I would have been able to own those new cars I took my girlfriends to the prom in. (Laughter.) Instead, I had to borrow them but I still got them. (Laughter.) It’s good having a dad in the automobile business, man. (Laughter.)
Hey, I’m back, you’re back, and the industry is back. (Applause.) The President and I made a bet, a simple bet. We bet on you. We bet on American ingenuity. We bet on you and we won. (Applause.) Chrysler, fastest growing car company in America, General Motors has seen the largest profits in its history — (applause) — 200,000 auto jobs lost since the rescue plan — 400,000 lost before we took office; 200,000 new jobs since the rescue plan was in place. (Applause.) That’s 200,000 people who had their dignity returned to them, reinstated, and a paycheck they can raise their family on. (Applause.)
My dad knew something and taught us that all of you know, that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to turn to your kids and say, it’s going to be okay. That’s what a job is about.
I don’t know if these other guys understand that. And, folks, that’s how Barack and I measure economic success, whether the middle class is growing or not, that’s the measure of success. (Applause.) A growing, vibrant middle class where moms and dads, mothers and fathers, can look at their kids and say, Honey, it’s going to be okay. Look, that’s what I want to talk to you about today.
This is the first of four speeches I’ll be making on behalf of the President and me in the coming weeks, laying out what we believe are clear, stark differences between us and our opponents and what’s at stake for the middle class, because it is the middle class that’s at stake in this election.
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich — these guys have a fundamentally different economic philosophy than we do. Our philosophy, ours is one that values the workers in the success of a business. It values the middle class and the success of our economy.
Simply stated, we’re about promoting the private sector, they’re about protecting the privileged sector. (Applause.) We are for a fair shot and a fair shake. They’re about no rules, no risks, and no accountability.
Look, there’s no clearer example of these two different views of the economy than how we reacted to the crisis in the automobile industry. It’s sort of a cautionary tale of how they would run the government again and the economy again if given a chance.
Remember, and you do remember — and Shelley, you captured it all. Remember what the headlines were saying when you woke up a couple of years ago. “It’s bankruptcy time for GM.” Another headline — “Crunch time looms for Chrysler.” Another headline — “Government must act quickly to prevent the collapse of suppliers.” You guys know for every one of you on the line, there’s four people in another job supplying those parts.
Folks, a million jobs at stake — a million good jobs were at stake on the assembly line, at the parts factories, at the automobile dealerships, right down to the diners outside each of those facilities. Our friends on the other side, our Republican friends, had started a mantra. They started the mantra that said, we would make auto companies “wards of the state” was their phrase. Governor Romney was more direct — let Detroit go bankrupt.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Booo!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He said that. He said that what we proposed, and I quote, “is even worse than bankruptcy.” He said it would make GM “the living dead.” Newt Gingrich said, “a mistake.”
But the guy I work with every day, the President, he didn’t flinch. This is a man with steel in his spine. He knew that resurrecting the industry wasn’t going to be popular. It was absolutely clear in every bit of polling data. And he knew he was taking a chance, but he believed. He wasn’t going to give up on a million jobs and on the iconic industry America invented. At least, he wasn’t going to give it up without a real fight.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: That’s right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s the kind of President, in my view, we all want, a President with the courage of his convictions — (applause) — a President willing to take risks on behalf of American workers and the American people. And, folks, that’s exactly what we have, a President with the courage of his convictions. He made the tough call and the verdict is in. President Obama was right and they were dead wrong. (Applause.)
And I say — I say to Governor Romney, his prediction — Governor Romney’s prediction of the “living dead,” we have now living proof, a million jobs saved, 200,000 new jobs created, the Toledo powertrain plant adding 250 good paying jobs over the next two years — GM investing $200 million to build an efficient eight-speed transmission that the world will see; the Toledo Chrysler Assembly Complex preparing to bring on a new shift, 1,100 new jobs building the best cars in the world, Jeeps — (applause) — building Jeeps not only to sell in the United States, but to export abroad. All told, right here in Ohio just since reorganization, 15,000 good paying, union, autoworker jobs, jobs you can raise a family on and live in a decent neighborhood on. (Applause.)
American-made cars that are once again cars we want to drive and the world wants to buy. And one more thing, the President’s historic fuel economy efficiency standards that nearly doubled the efficiency of cars, saving the American families $1.7 trillion at the pump, helping free us from foreign oil dependence. (Applause.) And they were against that too.
But you know, even though the verdict is in, Marcy, our Republican opponents, they just won’t give up. They can’t deny the automobile industry is back. They can’t deny we’re creating good jobs, good paying jobs again. So now, they’re trotting out a new argument — it’s kind of old and new. They say, not only should we not have done it, but had we not done it the private sector would have done it.
They say the private markets would have stepped in to save the industry. Governor Romney says the market, Wall Street, “will help lift them out.” Wrong. Any honest expert will tell you in 2009, no one was lining up to lend General Motors or Chrysler any money or for that matter to lend money to anybody. That includes Bain Capital. They weren’t lining up to lend anybody any money either. (Laughter and applause.)
So now, when that argument doesn’t have legs, they’ve now gone to another one, the new argument. They argue that our plan to save the industry was just a giveaway to union bosses and the unions. Senator Santorum said it was, “a payoff to special interests.” You know it’s kind of amazing Gingrich and Romney and Santorum, they don’t let the facts get in their way. (Laughter.)
Nobody knows better than you and your families the real price you paid to allow this reorganization to take place — plant closures, wage freezes, lower wages. They know, everybody knows, these companies would not be in existence today without the sacrifices of all of you in the UAW that you made. (Applause.)
Then they trot out another argument. They argue that if GM and Chrysler had gone under that’s okay, because Ford and other auto companies would have stepped in and filled the void — absolutely zero evidence for that. In fact, Alan Mulally said — of Ford Motor Company, the CEO — said that if GM and Chrysler went down, and I quote here, “they would have taken the industry down, plus maybe turn the U.S. recession into a depression.” Ford would have taken up the slack. Ford says, hey, no, had you not done what you did the whole thing would have collapsed.
Look, I want to tell you what’s real bankruptcy, the economic theories of Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney — they are bankrupt. (Applause.) If you give any one of these guys the keys to the White House, they will bankrupt the middle class again. (Applause.)
Look, the President and I have a fundamental commitment to dealing the middle class back into the American economy that they’ve been dealt out of for so long. And, ultimately, that’s what this election is all about. It’s a choice, a clear choice, a choice between a system that’s rigged and a system that’s fair — a system that says everyone will be held accountable for their actions, not just the middle class, a system that trusts the workers on the line instead of listening to the folks up in the suites. Folks, that’s the choice. It’s a stark choice and in my mind it’s not even a close call.
Look, a lot of you and your friends and family understand what I understand. As a kid, I saw my dad trapped in the city where all the good jobs were gone after World War II in the early ‘50s and middle ‘50s. I remember him walking up to my bedroom in my grandpop’s house and saying, Joey, dad is going to have to move away for a year. I’m going to move to Wilmington, Delaware. Uncle Frank is down there. It’s only 156 miles away. And I’ll try to come home every weekend. Joey, there are good jobs down there. And when I get one and I’m settled, I’m going to bring you, mom, Val, and Jimmy. It’s going to be good.
A lot of you — a lot of you and a lot of your friends made that long walk to your kid’s bedroom. But because of the actions of the President, things are changing. Today, hundreds of thousands of workers are replacing the longest walks with a different journey. It’s a journey that ends with workers who are able to go home and say, I’ve got a job. I’m building cars again. These are amazing cars that people in America and all over the world are going to want to buy.
It’s not just the automobile industry is coming back, folks. Manufacturing is coming back. The middle class is coming back. America is coming back — (applause) — worker by worker, home by home, community by community, this country is coming back because of you. (Applause.)
God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Go build those cars. (Applause.)
11:33 A.M. EDT