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Democratic Action Bolsters American Auto Industry

Make It In America                  

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 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.  Recent studies show that this government action saved nearly 1.5 million American jobs. [Center for Automotive Research, 11/17/10]

Since then, GM, and Chrysler, which had been in bankruptcy, have been well under way in major restructuring and recovery efforts, with Ford also strengthening:

  • All three U.S. automakers are now posting profits for the first time since 2004.  And just last week, all three announced double-digit increases in U.S. sales for the month and calendar year. [Detroit News, 1/4/11]
  • And since they [GM and Chrysler] emerged from bankruptcy, the auto industry as a whole has added 76,000 jobs.  [White House, 8/6/10]
  • This past November, GM returned $13.5 billion to American taxpayers when the company completed an initial public offering.  This IPO reduced the government's ownership stake in GM from 60 percent to 33 percent.  In total, GM has paid back nearly half - $23.1 billion - of the $49.5 billion investment in the company made by taxpayers.  Consistent with taxpayer protection principles included the House's 2008 emergency legislation, the taxpayers invested in GM with the expectation that, after bankruptcy, the company would strive to become more energy efficient and globally competitive, a goal that now appears within reach. 

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 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.