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Trump vows to bring back the auto industry to Michigan. But it never left. • Michigan

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Goodbye, Motor City. Hello, “Auto Country?” Yee-haw!

Former President Donald Trump proposed Michigan’s new moniker during a recent roundtable discussion at a Black Detroit church filled with white people. You may have heard that Trump is seeking the White House again.

“We’re going to bring back the auto industry to Michigan,” Trump said to enthusiastic applause. “We’re going to bring back the Auto Country. It’s going to be called Auto Country again.”

Again? I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life and never heard the state called by that nickname. 

Trump said he’s going to work with “our senator” to bring the industry back to Michigan. He probably was not referring to Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, who is considered one of the most effective lawmakers in Congress.

UAW president says Trump visit to non-union Michigan company is a ‘pathetic irony’

No doubt, Trump was talking about Republican Mike Rogers, a former Michigan state senator and member of Congress who was a long-time Florida resident before deciding to run this year for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Trump has endorsed Rogers for the seat.

I have questions.

Trump says he’ll return the auto industry to Michigan, but where is he going to bring it back from? The South, where Asian and European automakers have located virtually all their U.S. assembly plants? I doubt folks there would take too kindly to that idea.

Maybe Mexico, where Detroit automakers and others operate assembly and component plants? Awfully hard to do because of a free trade agreement, which Trump updated while president, that allows new vehicles built in the United States, Mexico and Canada to be sold throughout North America tariff-free.

How about China? During his years in the White House, Trump erroneously claimed General Motors had moved assembly plants to China and should bring them back. GM’s investments there were made to serve the Chinese market. Only one Chinese-made GM car, the Buick Envision, is exported to the U.S.

The obvious fact is the auto industry never left Michigan. It certainly has had and continues to have its challenges, but it is still the state’s signature industry and is highly profitable.

Michigan autoworkers build about 19% of all cars and trucks manufactured in the U.S., more than in any other state. Twenty-six automakers have tech centers and other facilities in Michigan. Ninety-eight of the top 100 North American suppliers have a presence here. Sixty-five of those suppliers are headquartered in Michigan.

And more than 1.1 million Michigan jobs are directly or indirectly tied to the auto industry, according to MichAuto.

I get it. Most candidates running for national office come to Michigan claiming they’ll boost the fortunes of the auto industry and manufacturing in general. Trump just cranks up the hyperbole to 100 on a scale of one to 10.

In Trump World, everything about American life is awful and he’s the only one who can save us. Trump says he’ll protect Michigan’s auto industry from Chinese competitors by ditching President Joe Biden’s policies supporting the inevitable transition to electric cars and trucks.

Biden and Trump have each proposed slapping 100% tariffs on Chinese vehicles.

Trump’s record of revitalizing U.S. industries during his four years as president isn’t so hot.

He was going to save the coal industry, which was rapidly shedding jobs as cheaper, cleaner sources of energy, including natural gas, wind and solar were taking off.

But more than 12,000 coal mining jobs disappeared during Trump’s term. And as the New York Times recently reported, Trump rarely mentions the coal industry on the campaign trail.

Not that he needs to. As the Times noted, Trump probably has most of the top coal-producing states, including Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky, locked up.

Trump also attempted to save General Motors’ long-troubled Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant, which the automaker slated for closing in 2018. He urged GM CEO Mary Barra to sell the plant to a startup electric pickup truck manufacturer, and she did.

That company, Lordstown Motors, filed for bankruptcy last year. Its Ohio factory is now owned by Taiwanese electronics giant, Foxconn, which wants to build electric vehicles there.

The GM Lordstown Plant on November 26, 2018 in Lordstown, Ohio. GM said it would end production at five North American plants including Lordstown, and cut 15 percent of its salaried workforce. | Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Yep, that’s the same Foxconn that mostly abandoned a $10 billion project in Wisconsin Trump prematurely called “the eighth wonder of the world.”

Overall, the U.S. had a net loss of 75,000 manufacturing jobs during Trump’s term. Much of that was a result of the 2020 COVID pandemic.

Whether Trump’s less-than-stellar record on boosting U.S. industries will matter as he tries to unseat Biden is an open question.

Biden is presiding over the strongest U.S. economy in decades. Wages are up, employers are creating jobs at a healthy clip and the stock market is booming.

But the vibes are bad. High grocery prices and stubborn inflation have voters in a foul mood. Polls have shown voters trust Trump more than Biden to steer the economy. One recent poll even found that most Americans think the economy is in a recession.

Michigan is a crucial swing state in the November election, so we’ll likely see Trump stumping here numerous times in coming months.

This is what I would like to tell him:…

Read More: Trump vows to bring back the auto industry to Michigan. But it never left. • Michigan

2024-06-22 08:19:27

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