Since the days when Model Ts first rolled off Henry Ford's assembly line, owning a car has been a part of the American Dream. I know when I was young, when the new models would come out, it was a very festive occasion. But today, the American automotive industry is imperiled due not only to recession and a credit freeze, but because it has been on the wrong track for long-term competiveness and job creation.
Today, we are considering legislation not as life-support to sustain a dying industry, but a jump start for an industry that is essential to our country's economic health. One in 10 American jobs is linked to the domestic auto industry, and it is a key pillar in an American manufacturing sector critical to our national security and economic competitiveness for decades to come.
This legislation is about offering Detroit–and America–a chance to get back on track. This legislation is built on four principles and actually comes down to a question of tough love. Tough love for an industry whose success is essential to our economic success, whose jobs are important to our workforce, whose innovation is essential to our progress, and whose manufacturing, technological, and industrial base is also essential to our national security.
“These rescue loans are necessary–not to reward bad decision-making in Detroit, but to protect three million American jobs. Three million livelihoods, three million families depend on the automakers–not only their direct employees, but the workers at their suppliers, the small businesses that serve those workers, and entire communities. Are we really willing to put those workers at risk in this deep recession, after a month in which our country just lost 533,000 more jobs?”
Rep. Sander Levin:
“Let me just say what’s at stake here. We’re talking about millions of people. We’re talking about people who work in the factories, people who manage them. We’re talking about suppliers. If one of the big three goes down, the supplier network will be devastated and all those who sell automobiles and all those who are involved indirectly in the economy. So I just urge, the time for rhetoric is gone.”
“The underlying proposition is this: should the United States have an auto manufacturing industry. That’s really what we’re deciding here. Because if this rule and/or bill goes down, we are faced with a condition which will lead to the collapse of our automotive-making capacity and according to some economic policy analysts, the elimination of over 3.3 million jobs across the economy, jobs that are affected directly and indirectly by the automotive industry. I think it’s important for us to step back and look at the context of this. I mean, are we intending to stay a great nation, a world power or are suddenly we retreating from the world stage?”