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Congressional Action Bolstered American Auto Industry: Saved Billions of Dollars, More than a Million American Jobs

According to a report released yesterday by the Center for Automotive Research, government action supporting the auto industry prevented a $26.8 billion loss to the American taxpayer and saved nearly 1.5 million American jobs. And today's initial public stock offering of the newly-reformed General Motors has analysts predicting taxpayers will be repaid for much of the emergency intervention. Bloomberg:

The U.S. government avoided a $28.6 billion loss and saved more than 1.45 million jobs by bailing out the automotive industry, a research group said today.

The loss would have been caused by increased public welfare payments and lost tax receipts from workers had the government not provided $82 billion of assistance to the industry, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor industry group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan…

“You could argue that because the auto industry is one of the most productive and integrated industries, putting the money there was a better place to put it than job creation in any other sector,” Dziczek said.

Congressional Republicans - working on behalf of the Special Interests - made no secret of their opposition to Democratic initiatives to save the American auto industry. From Politico, 'Republicans Hope General Motors is President Obama's Hurricane Katrina':

In news conference after news conference this week, they slammed the administration for taking a roughly 60 percent stake in GM as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. That decision, they argue, will result in lawmakers getting intimately involved with the daily workings of the troubled company…

…House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a New York radio interview Thursday: “Washington, the president, Congress, none ... has any business running that car company. They'll run it into the ground.”

Republicans also argue that the White House has put the taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars, money that they may never see repaid if the company continues to founder.

What Congress Has Done to Help the Auto Industry
In December 2008, just as the auto industry was on the brink of collapse and with 1 in 10 Americans jobs related to auto manufacturing, the House passed emergency legislation to aid the auto industry. The legislation included strong accountability measures to ensure the long-term viability and competitiveness of the auto industry, and to protect taxpayers. Though the Senate failed to pass the legislation, the Bush Administration used it as its template for its rescue of the auto industry. Since then, GM and Chrysler have been well under way in major restructuring and recovery efforts. And the three majory U.S. auto manufactures (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) are now operating at a profit for the first time since 2004:

…the auto industry as a whole has added 76,000 jobs. So there's some good trends out there.

This year, the House has passed several initiatives to help boost U.S. manufacturing as part of our commitment to the 'Make it in America' manufacturing strategy to strengthen American industry and save American jobs:

The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 2378)

Gives the Administration effective tools to address the unfair trade practice of currency manipulation by foreign countries, including China, and makes clear that additional tariffs can be imposed to offset the effects of a “fundamentally undervalued” currency under U.S. trade remedy laws.

Could create one million U.S. manufacturing jobs and cut our trade deficit with China by $100 billion a year, at no cost to the U.S. treasury.

The National Manufacturing Strategy Act (H.R. 4692)

Requires a comprehensive analysis of the nations' manufacturing sector every 4 years and directs the President to submit a National Manufacturing Strategy to Congress.

This strategy should identify goals and recommendations for how the federal government, as well as State, local and private institutions, can best support the growth of U.S. manufacturers into the markets of the future.

The U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act (H.R. 4380)

Helps U.S. manufacturers compete at home and abroad by temporarily suspending or reducing duties on intermediate products or materials these companies use that are not made domestically or opposed by domestic producers.

These reductions and suspensions of import duties lower costs for materials American businesses use in production and thereby increased the competiveness of U.S. products.

The Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act (H.R. 5156)

Helps American businesses to export clean energy technology products and services by giving them the information needed to navigate foreign markets and supports the development and implementation of a National Clean Energy Technology Export Strategy.

Clean energy technology exports could increase by $40 billion per year and create more than 750,000 jobs by 2020. [Energy Department]

In 2009, the House passed the Recovery Act, which has made critical investments to jumpstart the economy -- creating or saving up to 3.6 million jobs, giving 98 percent of workers a tax cut, and rebuilding America's road, rail and water infrastructure. The legislation also includes $69 billion in funding for clean energy to:

  • Modernize the smart grid to make it more efficient and reliable;
  • Implement tax incentives to spur energy savings and create clean energy jobs - including a tax credit for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles;
  • Develop advanced battery and electric vehicle technology;
  • Train Americans for green jobs in renewable energy, advanced technology automobile manufacturing, and other green-related industries; and
  •  Provide funding for the weatherization of homes

In May 2009, as part of the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act, the House included a provision sponsored by Rep. Mark Schauer of Michigan establishing the Small Manufacturers Transition Assistance Program. This new initiative provides technical assistance and expertise to small manufacturers, such as automotive parts suppliers, that are seeking opportunities to offer their current expertise in different industrial sectors, such as aviation.

In the summer of 2009, Congress passed and extended the “Cash for Clunkers” program, sponsored by Rep. Betty Sutton of Ohio - to provide consumers who trade in their old, gas-guzzling vehicles with vouchers worth up to $4,500 to help pay for new, more fuel efficient cars and trucks. This legislation created or saved over 60,000 American jobs, including those at auto manufacturers, suppliers and dealers, and boosted economic growth by up to $6.8 billion.

And in September 2009, the House passed the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act, sponsored by Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan. The legislation authorizes $2.85 billion over five years for the Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program to develop the next generation of fuel efficient cars and trucks. The goals of the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act are to improve the fuel efficiency of the U.S. fleet, reduce our dependence on imported oil, support domestic research and development, demonstration, commercialization, and manufacturing of advanced vehicle technologies, allow for greater consumer choice of technologies and fuels, and strengthen partnerships between the public and private sector.