YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP – Calling for both work and faith that “this city and this nation will once again shine with industrial might,” President Donald Trump told auto executives and an audience largely made up of autoworkers in Ypsilanti Township that he will ensure any regulations dealing with the auto industry protect jobs in the United States.
But what might get at least as much attention as his speech was an awkward interaction between Trump and Governor Rick Snyder, who did not endorse Trump for president.
In a photo opportunity with General Motors CEO Mary Barra and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Trump summoned Snyder to participate.
“Come on governor, even though you didn’t endorse me,” Trump said.
Snyder then stood next to Chao, who, as the four smiled and chuckled, turned to Snyder and said, “He’s not forgotten.”
“I never forget,” Trump said.
That clip quickly rocketed across social media.
Speaking at the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, Trump said he had assured auto executives, with whom he met before his address, that he would reschedule a mid-term review of rules requiring the industry to boost average fleet mileage requirements.
Trump accused former President Barack Obama’s administration of cancelling that review of the rule that calls for average fuel economy to hit a fleetwide average of 50 miles per gallon during the 2022-25 model years. In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held that the greenhouse emission standard could remain in place because the auto industry had the capacity to meet the standard.
Automotive executives criticized that decision, saying that it would make cars and trucks more expensive and possibly hurt jobs. The industry was also hoping for some compromise on the regulation because light duty trucks and SUVs are more popular now than cars, and have lower average mileage rates.
Trump’s brief comments on the rules were his only specific remarks on current policy affecting the auto industry. And he gave only a slight nod to the new role the Willow Run center has towards developing autonomous and self-driving vehicles, saying it was here that the new cars of the future would be developed.
But he praised Willow Run’s history in producing much of the aircraft that fueled the Allied victory in World War II. At its peak production, Trump said, the plant turned out one B-24 Liberator bomber every hour.
“That’s not the country we’ve had for the last 20 years,” Trump said.
He said his campaign pledge to restore American jobs was a vow he would keep, and the pledge “Buy American-Hire American” – which was on a banner behind him as he spoke – was a promise.
Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was reached, the United States has lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs, and with the growth of the Chinese economy, the U.S. has lost some 60,000 factories, he said.
“These statistics should have shaken up the Washington politicians,” Trump said, but they did not. Trade supporters argued the agreements helped the U.S. image abroad, he said.
“We don’t need friends for that,” he said. It’s not that the world liked Americans, he said. “They think we’re stupid people,” he said.
Trump said the “era of economic surrender for us is over. It’s over.”
And, echoing his campaign, Trump said America “will be respected and you as Americans workers will be respected again. You will. It’s happening.”
Before the address, Trump toured a display of a number of American cars as he met with auto executives. Those executives included top officials from international companies that have factories in the U.S. Trump encouraged them to build more modern plants in the U.S., and in his address told the crowd that of foreign companies that build in the U.S., “We love them here.”
The Michigan League for Conservation Voters criticized Trump’s move to open the fuel efficiency standard for review, saying it threatened American health and would force motorists to spend more on fuel, which would hurt other economic development.
This story was published by Gongwer News Service. To subscribe, click on www.gongwer.com