Donald Trump flails, threatening GM and trying to blame a Democrat for plant closings

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PBS NewsHour / YouTube President Trump responds to UN officials...
PBS NewsHour / YouTube

Donald Trump is lashing out in all directions over General Motors’ planned factory closings and layoffs in the United States. Trump’s tantrum started Monday following GM’s announcement and continued Tuesday on Twitter with a threat to GM’s federal subsidies, including tax credits for the buyers of electric vehicles.

Trump is also trying to blame Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, telling reporters that “Ohio wasn’t properly represented by their Democrat senator, Senator Brown, because he didn’t get the point across.” Mind you, Ohio’s other senator and its governor are both Republicans, as are the governors of Michigan and Maryland, the other two states where GM is closing plants. And no one could seriously question Sherrod Brown’s commitment to Ohio workers.

While Trump blusters and threatens—in ways that the Associated Press notes “tested the limits of his presidential authority,” polite-speak for “he probably can’t do”—thousands of workers’ jobs are on the line, and their union is gearing up to fight for them. The plant closing announcement may even be a negotiating ploy by GM:

The factory announcements likely represented GM’s opening bid in contract talks with the union that start next year, said Kristen Dziczek, vice president of labor and industry with the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The factories slated for closure could get new products in exchange for items the company wants from the union, she said.

Keeping open a plant slated for closure is not without precedent for GM. In 2009, GM announced that it intended to close a huge assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan, north of Detroit. But it later negotiated concessions from the union and reopened the plant to build the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact car. The factory is still in operation and now builds the Sonic and the Bolt electric car.

But if the union is able to save jobs—at whatever cost—expect Donald Trump to jump in and try to take credit.

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