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Democratic Action Bolsters American Auto Industry

Democratic initiatives to support the auto industry have saved American jobs, strengthened U.S. manufacturing and spurred innovation.  Democrats are committed to continuing to preserve our manufacturing base, which is essential to our economic and national security.  House Democrats will continue to work to increase American manufacturing and create new American jobs through our “Make It In America” agenda.

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 rescue 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.  And President Obama built upon that in restructuring these companies.  Studies show that this government action saved nearly 1.5 million American jobs. [Center for Automotive Research, 11/17/10]

“On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse.  Some even said we should let it die.  With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen.  In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility.  We got workers and automakers to settle their differences.  We got the industry to retool and restructure.  Today, General Motors is back on top as the world's number-one automaker.  Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company.  Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories.  And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.  We bet on American workers.  We bet on American ingenuity.  And tonight, the American auto industry is back.”
-President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address [1/24/12]

Post-bankruptcy, GM and Chrysler have been well under way in their major restructuring and recovery efforts and are emerging as more globally competitive and energy efficient companies.  Ford, which avoided bankruptcy and did not receive Federal assistance, is also stronger:


  • In the past two years, the auto industry as a whole has added 160,000 jobs - the fastest pace of job growth in the auto industry in more than a decade.  In the year before GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, the auto industry shed over 400,000 jobs. 
  • And job creation for the American auto industry is expected to continue.  Car companies have announced plans to hire or rehire at least 25,000 workers in the U.S. by 2015 - and the auto industry, including foreign manufacturers, could add as many as 167,000 jobs in the next few years according to the Center for Automotive Research.
  • In 2011, each of the Big Three ratified new contracts with the UAW that are putting more Americans to work on the assembly lines making cars here in America.  The four-year agreement reached in October between the UAW and Ford Motor Co. brings to 12,000 the number of new jobs when combined with recent Ford announcements, bringing auto manufacturing jobs back to the United States from China, Mexico and Japan.  The agreement includes $16 billion to produce new and upgraded vehicles and components by 2015, of which, $6.3 billion will be invested directly into retooling and upgrading plants.  The UAW-GM contract creates 6,400 new jobs and the UAW-Chrysler agreement creates 2,100 new jobs. 


  • The Big Three finished 2011 with the best year since 2008 - with annual U.S. auto sales of 12.8 million.  Each of those U.S. automakers are now posting profits for the first time since 2004, and in 2011 they gained market share for the first time since 1988.
  • Ford brand U.S. sales increased 17 percent in 2011--with December being the best retail sales month for the company since 2005.  Ford's revenue for 2011 increased 13 percent to $136.3 billion, and the automaker just reported its 11th consecutive profitable quarter, with net income of $13.6 billion. 
  • General Motors sold 9 million vehicles worldwide in 2011, an increase in 7.6% that makes GM the world's largest automaker once again.  GM's Chevrolet brand sold almost 4.8 million vehicles, which was more than auto companies including Nissan and Honda.
  • Chrysler sales grew last year by 26 percent, and yesterday reported its first annual net profit since 1997. 


  • GM has repaid all of its outstanding cash obligations to the U.S. government, which retains a 33 percent ownership stake in the company. With GM regaining its preeminent position as the world's largest automaker, taxpayers will have a greater chance of recouping more of their investment. 
  • This past summer - more than 6 years ahead of schedule - Chrysler Group repaid the government all of its outstanding cash obligations.  This brought the total amount returned to taxpayers to $11.12 billion, a net loss of $530 million.
  • The U.S. government no longer has ownership stake in Chrysler, and defying expectations, has recovered more than 90 percent of taxpayers' investment in the company.

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 $90 billion in tax cuts and investments in clean energy which will leverage another $100 billion in private investments in energy efficiency, renewable generation, research, and other areas of the transformation to a clean energy future 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 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, spurred the sale of 700,000 vehicles and boosted economic growth by up to $6.8 billion.