Barack Obama talks tough to Detroit

May 12, 2007 | By | 4 Replies More

As reported by Newsweek, on May 11 Barack Obama told Detroit that it could do much better.  This scolding came at a time that American automakers “lost more than $16 billion last year, while Toyota earned a record $14 billion and surpassed GM as the world’s largest automaker.” Obama castigated Detroit

for driving our dependence on foreign oil. “For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars,” Obama told an audience stunned into silence after greeting him with a standing ovation.”Whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that could’ve saved their industry. Even as they’ve shed thousands of jobs and billions in profits over the last few years, they’ve continued to reward failure with lucrative bonuses for CEOs.” What played as an act of courage in the rest of the country, is being seen as political suicide here in Detroit . . .


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Category: American Culture, Economy, Energy, Politics, Technology

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Ben says:

    That sounds more like what he should say to the California crowd. This one might bite him, Americans love their rifles and their choppers. This is exciting! Go Hilliary!

  2. Justin says:

    This is exciting! I think Barack just won my vote for telling it like it is.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Today's problems in the U.S. auto industry are not new. For decades, the industry has been plagued by mismanagement and union protectionism. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards are but one example. Back in the late 1970s, the federal government proposed raising CAFE requirements from 20 miles-per-gallon to 27.5 mpg over ten years. American car companies screamed that it was "impossible" to achieve this target, even though import car companies were *already* meeting it. Go figure.

    Likewise, the UAW has also sown the seeds of its own destruction. Not that I begrudge hardworking American auto workers a fair wage, but the fact is that the union secured wages that were uncompetitive relative to global competition: America is simply not a competitive supplier of unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Accordingly, as global free trade increased, American union wages became increasingly uncompetitive, to the point where its cars were no longer competitively priced relative to imports. Quality, or rather the lack of it, also played a huge role. I still remember trying to replace the battery in my 1980 GM car — I first had to remove a cross-brace that was held in place with the three bolts: all were different sizes, one was metric, and one had to be removed from inside the wheel well…which first required jacking up the car and removing the front wheel to gain access. All this just to change the battery. Quality improved over time, of course, but only grudgingly, and it still, today, lags far behind the Japanese. Thus, it is with good reason that American car makers continue to lose ground in global competition. If Detroit spent less money and effort on lobbying Washington, and more of it on good marketing and engineering, they might be where Honda and Toyota are today: profitable.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Obama just hit another home run on a ridiculous question that keeps coming up: whether his race is (or should be) a factor.

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