Weekly Address: Good News on Autos, Obstruction on Small Business

Weekly Address: Good News on Autos, Obstruction on Small Business

The President:
Hello, everybody. I’m speaking to you from the
GM auto plant here in Detroit, Michigan, where a hopeful story
is unfolding in a place that’s been one of the
hardest hit in America. In the 12 months
before I took office, American auto companies lost
hundreds of thousands of jobs. Sales plunged 40%. Liquidation was a
very real possibility. Years of papering over tough
problems and a failing to adapt to changing times — combined with a vicious economic crisis — brought an industry that’s been the symbol of our manufacturing might for a century to the brink of collapse. We didn’t have
many good options. On the one hand, we could
have continued the practice of handing out billions of taxpayer
dollars to the auto industry with no real strings attached. On the other hand, we could have
walked away and allowed two major auto companies to
go out of business — which could have wiped out
one million American jobs. I refused to let that happen. So we came up with a third way. We said to the auto companies, if you’re willing to make the hard decisions necessary to adapt and compete in the 21st century, we’ll make a one-time
investment in your future. Of course, if some
folks had their way, none of this would
be happening at all. This plant might not exist, because there were leaders of the “just say no”
crowd in Washington who argued that standing by the
auto industry would guarantee failure. One called it “the worst
investment you could possibly make.” They said we should just walk
away and let these jobs go. Today, the men and women in this
plant are proving these cynics wrong. Since GM and Chrysler
emerged from bankruptcy, our auto industry has
added 55,000 jobs — the strongest period of job
growth in more than 10 years. For the first time since 2004,
all three American automakers are operating at a profit. Sales have begun to rebound. And plants like this that
wouldn’t have existed if all of us didn’t act are now
operating maximum capacity. What’s more, thanks
to our investments, a lot of these auto companies
are reinventing themselves to meet the demands of a new age. At this plant, they’re hard at
work building the high-quality, fuel-efficient
cars of tomorrow — cars like the plug-in hybrid
Chevy Volt that can run 40 miles before taking a sip of gasoline. Throughout Michigan, an advanced
battery industry is taking root that will power clean
electric cars — an industry that produced only
2% of the world’s advanced batteries last year, but will
now be able to produce as much as 40% in a little
over five years. That’s real progress. There’s no doubt that we have a
long way to go and a lot of work to do before folks here and
across America can feel whole again. But what’s important is that
we’re finally beginning to see some of the tough
decisions we made pay off. And if we had listened to the
cynics and the naysayers — if we had simply done what the
politics of the moment required — none of this progress
would have happened. Still, even as these icons of
American industry are being reborn, we also need to stand
shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s small
businessmen and women — particularly since they’re the
ones who create most of the new jobs in this country. As we work to
rebuild our economy, I can’t imagine anything more
common-sense than giving additional tax breaks and
badly-needed lending assistance to America’s small business
owners so they can grow and hire. That’s what we’re trying to do
with the Small Business Jobs Act — a bill that has been
praised as being good for small businesses by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of
Independent Business. It’s a bill that includes
provision after provision authored by both
Democrats and Republicans. But yesterday, the Republican
leaders in the Senate once again used parliamentary
procedures to block it. Understand, a majority of
Senators support the plan. It’s just that the Republican
leaders in the Senate won’t even allow it to come up for a vote. That isn’t right. And I’m calling on the
Republican leaders in the Senate to stop holding America’s small
businesses hostage to politics, and allow an up-or-down vote on
this small business jobs bill. At a time when America is just
starting to move forward again, we can’t afford the do-nothing
policies and partisan maneuvering that will
only take us backward. I won’t sit here and pretend
everything’s wonderful. I know that times are tough. But what I also know is that
we’ve made it through tough times before. And we’ll make it through again. The men and women hard at work
in this auto plant makes me absolutely confident of that. So to all the
naysayers out there, I say this: Don’t ever bet
against the American people. Don’t bet against
the American worker. Because we don’t take
the easy way out. That’s not how we
deal with challenge. That’s not how we built this
country into the greatest economic power the
world has ever known. We did it by summoning the
courage to persevere, and adapt, and push this country
forward, inch by inch. That’s the spirit I see
in this plant today, and as long as I have the
privilege of being your President, I will keep fighting
alongside you until we reach a better day. Thanks.

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