General Motors’ statement Monday of its plan to lay off 15 percent of its workers and shutter 5 plants in North America has provided new fuel to critics of President Donald Trump’s economic and trade policies.
Throughout his time in office, the president has repeatedly held up GM as a definitive success story in his efforts to incentivize U.S. companies to bring more jobs back to the U.S. through aggressive deregulation and the GOP-backed tax cut package.
On Monday, President Trump told press reporters he’s communicated his annoyance with the news of the business’s reorganization straight to CEO Mary Barra and warned that GM had better get an automobile into production that will sell.
“I was very tough. I spoke with her when I heard they were closing and I said, you know, this country has done a lot for General Motors. You better get back in there soon. That’s Ohio. And you better get back in there soon. We have a lot of pressure on them,” Trump said, mentioning low sales of the Chevy Cruze as an issue for the business.
“Not happy about it. Their car is not selling well, so they’ll put something else. I have no doubt that in a not-too-distant future, they’ll put something else. They better put something else in,” Trump said.
White Home financial consultant Larry Kudlow was set to meet the CEO of GM at the White House on Monday, in a conference that a White Home official stated has been on the books for weeks and was not set up in response to the day’s news about their reorganization.
Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who represents the Mahoning Valley where GM announced it would be laying off approximately 1,618 staff members and closing down its Lordstown plant in March 2019, pointed directly at comments the president made on a check out to the county in 2017.
“They’re all coming back. Don’t move. Don’t sell your house,” Trump said during a rally in Youngstown, Ohio.
“So far, President Trump has been asleep at the switch and owes this community an explanation,” Ryan said in a statement.
It’s far from the first time Trump has highlighted GM as evidence his economic policies were breaking through for American workers.
“I think you’re going to see General Motors — they’re coming back,” Trump remarked back February at a bipartisan trade meeting of legislators. “A lot of companies are coming back, and they’re coming back to areas that you represent. It’s a good feeling. That’s a really good feeling.”
“You look at what’s happening with Ford and with General Motors in Michigan and Ohio,” Trump added during a press conference in May of last year. “You look at the tremendous number of jobs that are being announced in so many different fields. That’s what I’m proud of, and that’s what we want to focus our energy on.”
More just recently, however, the business has actually indicated losses it states are an outcome of the president’s trade war with China and other countries, saying tariffs on imported steel have cost it $1 billion.
A similar statement by Harley Davidson back in August that it was preparing to move some production jobs abroad resulted in a quick backlash from Trump, who went as far to motivate his followers to boycott the business.
“Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great! Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better.” said the President in this tweet by @realDonaldTrump.
The White House did not instantly react Monday to ABC News’ request to discuss the GM statement.