As Republicans head to the polls in Michigan today, President Barack Obama is taking care to remind voters that the GOP candidates would have left the auto industry “hung out to dry.” Obama was in secret campaign mode this morning, delivering a rousing address to union members at the United Autoworkers Convention in Washington. The speech focused largely on his administration’s decision to bail out Chrysler and General Motors, highlighting both companies return to profitability. While he never mentioned any of the Republican candidates by name, he chided political opponents of the bailout for trying to “completely rewrite history” in the wake of its success.
Although Obama’s appearance was technically not a “political event” — as chanting UAW members frequently had to be reminded – his speech laid out what will likely be a cornerstone of his campaign message this year, particularly in Rust Belt swing states in Michigan and Ohio.
This excerpt says it all:
This notion that we should have let the auto industry die; that we should pursue anti-worker policies in hopes unions like yours will unravel – it’s part of that same old you’re-on-your-own philosophy that says we should just leave everyone to fend for themselves. They think the best way to boost the economy is to undo the reforms we put in place to prevent another crisis, and let Wall Street write its own rules again. They think the best way to help families afford health care is to undo the reform we passed that’s already lowering costs for millions of Americans, and go back to the days when insurance companies could deny your coverage or jack up your rates whenever and however they pleased. They think we should keep cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans so that billionaires can keep paying lower tax rates than their secretaries.
I don’t think so. That’s the philosophy that got us into this mess. And we can’t afford to go back. Not now. We’ve got a lot of work to do and a long way to go before everyone who wants a good job can find one. We’ve got a long way to go before middle-class Americans regain the sense of security that’s been slipping away since long before the recession hit. But over the last two years, our businesses have added about 3.7 million new jobs. Manufacturing is coming back for the first time since the 1990s. Companies are bringing jobs back from overseas. The economy is getting stronger. The recovery is speeding up. And now is the time to keep our foot on the gas.
We will not settle for a country where a few people do really well, and everyone else struggles to get by. We’re fighting for an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony profits. We’re fighting for an economy that’s built to last – one built on things like education, energy, manufacturing things the rest of the world wants to buy, and restoring the values that made this country great: Hard work. Fair play. The opportunity to make it if you try. And the responsibility to reach back and help someone else make it, too.
That’s who we are. That’s what we believe in.
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