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Rep. Stevens: Biden would make Michigan's auto industry a priority, as he did before

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When Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Michigan on Friday to tout the ingenuity and resilience of the Michigan economy, he has former Vice President Joe Biden to thank.

As the chief of staff to the U.S. Auto Rescue Task Force, I saw fear on the faces of Michigan families when the worst recession since the Great Depression caused one of the largest drops in automobile sales. I also witnessed the stark difference between leaders like Biden who stood up for the auto industry, and then-Congressman Mike Pence who did not.

The son of a car salesman, Biden’s commitment to the auto industry has always been clear. In 2009, Biden played a critical role in saving and reviving the American auto industry and he protected our manufacturing sector, saving jobs right here in Michigan. This effort was anything but easy, and unfortunately, it was made harder by some voices, including  that of Pence, who sought to put politics ahead of people’s livelihoods.

In 2008, then-Rep. Pence called American auto manufacturing “a flawed business plan,” and earlier that year claimed to oppose the auto rescue because he wanted to put “the interest of taxpayers first.” In just a few short years, the auto industry paid the American taxpayers back while preserving hundreds of thousands of Michigan jobs.

While running for president in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump vowed to support the auto industry. He promised to make Michigan “the manufacturing hub of the world once again.” He even boasted: “Your industry in Michigan is going to start up big league again.” Those bold proclamations have only produced broken promises.

President Trump inherited a strong economy from President Barack Obama and Biden. There were over 42,000 motor vehicle manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan in Trump’s first full month in office in February 2017. Over 40 months later, the Trump administration has failed to surpass that figure. And now the coronavirus has led to job loss and greater hardship.

While the Trump administration led us into a manufacturing recession, it's also allowed China to position itself as the global leader of the auto industry of the future. We cannot let this stand. Fortunately, as president, Biden would employ every resource at his disposal to ensure America's auto industry wins the 21st century. His clean jobs plan would create 1 million new jobs in auto manufacturing, auto supply chains and auto infrastructure as well as position the United States as the world's clear leader in electric vehicle production.

Today, too many Michigan families find themselves facing hard times. In this challenging moment in our nation's history, we should heed Henry Ford’s words: Don't find fault, find a remedy.” When Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and hundreds of thousands of auto jobs were on the line, Biden delivered Michigan’s remedy. As president, he’d do it again.

Congresswoman Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, serves Michigan's 11th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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