• Nov 14, 2006


We've just finished watching the coverage of a press conference held outside the White House following the president's meeting with General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda. We attempted to watch the press conference live on Fox News, CNN and CNN Headline News, but each channel only allowed Rick Wagoner, the first of the three CEOs who grabbed the mic, about 30 seconds of uninterrupted air time. After that we got an earful of pointless and shallow commentary from no-name TV face jockeys who merely ran down the meetings itinerary rather than letting the men talk. Ugh. News channels suck.

Anyway, the gist of the meeting was that the president listened to the Big Three's concerns with an open ear, but offered no commitments that the government would jump to action on any of their points. The meeting's main talking points included energy security, the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, health care costs, the weak value of the yen and the rising cost of raw materials like steel. For all of the hoopla over this meeting finally taking place after two postponements, we're surprised that more didn't come of it. Although, considering how big this president is on the free market economy, the three gentlemen from Detroit should have known right from the start that our Commander in Chief would just order them to build better cars that people want to buy. If only it were that simple.

Click on through for a joint statement by General Motors, Ford and The Chrysler Group that was released immediately following the press conference. Feel free to discuss the finer points of government and civic duty in the comments, but keep it civil yourselves.

PRESS RELEASE:

Joint Statement Regarding The Meeting Between President George W. Bush And The CEOs of America's Domestic Auto Industry

Joint statement attributable to Chrysler Group president and CEO Tom LaSorda, Ford Motor Company president and CEO Alan Mulally, and General Motors chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner regarding the meeting between President George W. Bush and the CEOs of America's domestic auto industry

WASHINGTON, DC - We appreciate the President meeting with us today on issues that we believe are not only critical to the domestic auto industry, but also affect overall American manufacturing competitiveness.

We had a candid and productive discussion on such specific issues as energy security, the affordability and quality of health care, the trade imbalance caused by an artificially weak yen, and the rising costs of vehicle production materials.

Energy Security
We told the President we support his and Congress' call for the continued development and use of renewable fuels as part of lessening America's dependence on imported oil. We said that we are willing to do our part to increase the use of renewable fuels and that we stand ready to make half of our annual vehicle production E85 flexible fuel vehicles or capable of running on bio-diesel by 2012. We discussed with the President that as part of an overall national strategy to fully tap the potential of renewable fuels to displace petroleum, any vehicle production increase must be accompanied by continuing incentives that encourage the manufacture, distribution, and availability of renewable fuels and the production of flexible fuel vehicles.

Working together to increase the production of flexible fuel vehicles and the availability of renewable fuels affirms our continued support of the "25 by '25" initiative--an effort led by the Energy Future Coalition and supported by agriculture and forestry groups to get 25 percent of the nation's energy from renewable fuels by 2025. In June, we also agreed collectively to double annual production of vehicles capable of running on renewable fuels to two million cars and trucks by 2010.

Manufacturing Competitiveness
During our meeting we briefed the President on the tough decisions we are taking to make our businesses more competitive. We also discussed specific issues related to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness that cut across nearly all manufacturing sectors, not just autos. We explained why a healthy domestic auto industry is vital to our nation's economy. Our three companies are the source, directly or indirectly, of over seven million U.S. jobs and we have invested over $38 billion in the U.S. over the last four years. Additionally, the more than $21 billion we spend each year on research and development exceeds any other sector and we purchase 80 percent of all U.S.-produced auto parts and components, equaling $171 billion. However, the economic benefits and the well-paying jobs our industry and nearly all manufacturing provide are declining in part because the competitive playing field is not level. Some of our principal foreign competitors benefit immensely from national control and subsidization of health care costs in their home countries, and from fiscal and trade policies which keep local currencies weak and make import of U.S. products difficult.

Health Care
We outlined the serious competitive disadvantage that upwardly spiraling health care costs are placing on our industry and America's manufacturing base. We told the President we believe that government can play a leading role to improve health care and make it affordable and available for all. We expressed support for, and an interest in greater involvement in, several Administration proposals such as advancing information technology usage and the recent initiative to increase price and outcome transparency. With support from the private sector, our government can exercise its power both as the largest purchaser of health care and as a policy maker to stabilize costs, reduce errors, and provide consumers the cost and performance information they need to make informed health care decisions. Also, we asked specifically for a greater focus on improving the quality of care for those with serious illnesses or chronic diseases--the one percent of the population that makes up 30 percent of the nation's overall health care bill.

Currency
Another area of competitive concern we discussed with the President is the massive automotive trade imbalance with Japan and the artificially weak value of the yen. The nation's widening trade imbalance with Japan is costing the U.S. thousands of manufacturing jobs and intensifying downward pressure on wages and benefits of America's working families. This year Japanese vehicle imports into the U.S. will reach 2.3 million, which is further exploited by the artificial weakness of the yen--trading at the lowest level in 20 years. The artificially weak yen provides Japanese automakers a $3,000 to $9,000 per vehicle cost subsidy for Japanese auto exports and the numerous Japanese-made parts that go into vehicles made by Japanese companies in the U.S. We told the President that we are very willing to make difficult decisions to transform our businesses to compete successfully, but we are not in a position to counter the effects of an excessively weak yen. We asked the President to take action to address the weak yen.

Material Costs
Finally, we discussed the rising cost of production materials such as domestic steel. We told the President that as a result of massive consolidation, robust global demand, sharply lower costs, and import protection, the domestic steel industry has completely restructured, recovered and is very profitable. Unfortunately, the continued protection of domestic steelmakers from competition is placing a heavy cost burden on U.S. manufacturing. As a result, our companies face higher costs for steel and supply disruptions. We are asking the Administration to recognize that the continued protection of steel from competition is severely harming U.S. manufacturing and is no longer needed.

Overall, we were pleased with the exchange we had with the President and came away with a clear impression that he understands how vital these issues are to the American economy and our ability to compete successfully in the global marketplace. We welcome the opportunity to work with him, his Administration, and the Congress in a bipartisan manner and to move forward on solutions to these issues while continuing to do our part to ensure America's long-standing leadership in manufacturing and innovation.


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  • 42 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      During the last eight years our country seen trade deficits of $4.3 trillion dollars. In that same span we lost over 4 million manufacturing jobs. GM alone sent to the streets 91,000 jobs but not to worry 93,000 jobs were added in southern right to work foriegn auto plants. We call that progress. What a good American would know. The Bush family with investments they own with the Carlyle Group which is very heavy invested in foriegn auto parts manufacturing have made a killing. It must be also noted that they have made much more money with the wars in the middle East. This is nothing new in America, it has been going on for generations. But before it was covered up some what. Today the throw it in your face because thay believe there is nothing you can do about it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with Neil Cavuto on the matter. It is not the job of the state to help make better automobiles. It's true that Asian and European automakers have some trade advantages blessed by government authorities; but that is not the American way. It was Ford that built the Pinto. It was GM that built the Vega. It was Chrysler that built land yachts in the 1970s. GM built a boring Impala and Ford built nearly a million gas-guzzling F-150s. If their management cannot understand why they are losing money, then it's time for them to go under. Heaven knows the UAW hasn't helped.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Dear Mr Oak cubans do not live longer than Japanese. We have superior hospital and ambulances. NiPPON PoWER

      Do your research nipponboi. Just about every country on the planet has better ambulances and than Cuba, their hospitals may not be the state of the art, but they do have the longest life expectancy on the planet.

      Remember, you need our market to survive, we don't need yours. we don't buy, you starve. Why did Nissan power need Renault to haul their asses out of trouble?

      If our culture was protectionist like yours, there would be no problem, would we?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I just had a funny thought.Instead of subsidizing US automakers to compete with foriegn makes.why doesn't the US Gov't just tax THE FORIEGN AUTOMAKERS the same amount that THEIR GOVERNMENT subsidizes them to compete with us?Maybe that would level the playing field.Like I said,just a funny thought.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Is that Nancy Grace with a red wig on?
      • 8 Years Ago
      #10

      "1. There is no Constitutional authority granted to the Federal Government to provide healthcare to anyone - especially to only selected industries. And while maybe a case can be made for covering those who are infirm or who are children, the Framers of the Constitution did not have in mind Universal Healthcare for any citizen paid by another citizen."

      The Constitution is not a dead piece of paper but a living document and while the founders may have not thought of Healthcare as important to "promote the general welfare" they also forgot or did not consider or include the following:

      Woman suffrage
      Prohibition of liquor
      Black suffrage
      Income taxes
      Limitation of Presidents to two terms
      Suffrage in the District of Columbia
      Poll taxes
      Abolition of slavery
      Civil rights

      But because there are "Rights retained by the people"
      we could change that if we wish.

      This statement sort of sums it up:

      “I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.”
      — Benjamin Franklin, 1787

      Go here and take the test:http://www.constitutionfacts.com/constitution/constitution.htm

      • 8 Years Ago
      That's the CNN info-babe who went to the bathroom a few months ago while her microphone was still "on", and she was talking to another female in the ladies room about how her sister in law is such a control freak! The whole thing was broadcast live on the air. I bet it's gonna be fun at HER Thanksgiving dinner!
      • 8 Years Ago
      is she stoned?
      • 8 Years Ago
      alright.
      1) 25% Tariffs on all imported trucks/SUVs body-on-frame. Been this way for ages. This is why Kia is building a plant in georgia(if rumors are correct, as they wanna build trucks in USA, and a few for Hyundai too, since @ 25% tariffs, would make the USA brands AN UNFAIR PRICE ADVANTAGE).

      2) There is still a 2.5% tariff on all imported cars into the USA, including the one's that GM-DAT(Daewoo) imports into Canada, and USA, from South Korea.

      3) Seems it has been ok for Big 2.5 to build/sell cars overseas for decades, yet, it's "unfair" for others to do the same in USA?
      (this is called double standards).

      4) How many tie ups are there with Big 2.5 and foreign brands? Wanna see?
      GM bought Daewoo(with help from Suzuki and Shanghai).
      Ford controls Mazda, Volvo, Jaguar, for a few.
      Chrysler: If their German Owners want to sell them , there is NOTHING Chrysler can do!
      Plus, they are involved with Mistu and Hyundai in GEMA(UAW built, Hyundai-block based 4 cylinders) in Dundee, MI.

      Quit Snivelling like cowering toadies in the corner, acting like "innocents" being taken advantage of by the "Evil" Importers( total @#$%^&*( of trash).
      Also, NUMMI= GM/Toyota since 1984..... Vibe= Toyota Matrix, for example.UAW plant.

      SO @#$%^&*( gives here? A bunch of #$%^&*() if ya ask me.
      Losers(CEO's) Not wanting to lose their what, 7-13 million dollar per year bonuses. Waaaaaaaaaaaah!

      If they can't help it, DUMP the contracts, take a major hit for a year, (next year, lot of UAW contract negotiations coming up) and hire Normal, Non-UAW people, for 15-18 per hour, to start.... and build stuff people want.

      Know the difference between Honda workers and GM? GM workers can goof- off, if their work "is done". Example: if they can do the line job in say 6 hours, they can hang out 2, until their shift is done, I have Heard.
      Honda? It says "8 hours" , you work 8 hours( I heard one woman at the local college whine about "they make you work hard, full 8 hours a day".....what a whiner... she should be in Iraq with the Army or something, that'd really give her something to whine about).

      is this true? If your "work for the shift " is doen early, you still must stick around, but can read books, sleep, go to the lunch room, until your time is up?| Do the japanese demand 8 hours of work per day, no matter what?

      I dunno. These are just things people have told me, and I know they work where they claim they do.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is so funny!!!
      It's amazing how the wanna be analysis have branched this whole topic into a "bailout"..
      Ok, geniuses, do you understand EXACTLY what the concerns are? What this meeting was about? Obviously not if you keep thinking they're whining about low sales. I guess rising heathcare cost are only a problem in the automotive industry?!?!?! Some of you are so simple!! There's more to the problems concerning the manufacturing industry (not just auto) then making a successful product.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What's wrong with telling car manufacturers the plain truth, which seems to have evaded them? The solution to their woes is to design, build and market relevant quality cars people will buy?

      Why would German-owned Daimler Chrysler expect American taxpayers to directly or indirectly bail it out.
      • 8 Years Ago
      As long as the big 3 continue to get clobberred by outrageous healthcare costs it'll never be a simple matter of making better cars. The fact that just about every other 1st world country on the planet has universal healthcare and the US does not means that when it comes to people costs we'll never be able to compete on a level playing field.
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