President Obama visited a Chrysler Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio last week. The visit comes two years after the president’s decision to spend $60 billion to bailout out Chrysler and General Motors. The president received a warm reception from a crowd, who were grateful for a decision that has kept them employed.
‘Yes We Did’
Upon his arrival, President Obama was greeted by the words “Yes We Did” and “Toledo Chrysler Thanks You” spelled out in paper cups stuck into a fence by plant workers.
Steady growth for ‘Big 3’
The president has used the auto industry bailout, initially unpopular with the public, as a cornerstone of his re-election campaign. Since the bailouts, the so-called “Big 3” auto manufacturers have had steady growth. All three are making profits, adding employees and have increased market shares. Chrysler and GM both were helped by the industry bailouts. Ford has recovered on its own.
Obama told the crowd that “We could have done what a lot of folks in Washington thought we should do, and that is nothing. We could have just let U.S. automakers go into an uncontrolled freefall. And that would have triggered a cascade of damage all across the country.”
‘Bumps in the road’
Perhaps in acknowledgement of the recent spike in unemployment numbers, Obama said, “There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery. We’re going to pass through some tough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a hard time on.”
“I don’t want to pretend like everything’s solved,” the president continued. “There’s nobody here who doesn’t know somebody who’s looking for work and hasn’t found something yet.”
U.S. sells final shares
The president, for the most part, kept his speech focused on the auto industry bailout and recovery, staying positive and enthusiastic. He informed the crowd that the U.S. government recently sold its final share in Chrysler to Fiat.
A standing ovation
Toward the end of his speech he he reminded the crowd of “all those voices who were saying ‘No. No we can’t.’” The crowd of auto workers gave him a standing ovation.
Wooing the auto industry
The Obama campaign is giving a lot of attention to the auto industry. Ohio is second only to Michigan in its number of auto workers and will be a key swing state in 2012. In a move that has not gone over well with the United Auto Workers union, the Republican-controlled Ohio House recently approved a bill that could significantly limit collective bargaining for workers in that state.