Obama Statement on President's Meeting with Big Three Automakers
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today released the following statement following the President's meeting with the Big Three Automakers:
"The U.S. auto industry is struggling, in part because of the rising cost of health care that this Administration has done nothing to address, and millions of Americans stand to lose their jobs if we don't do something to help," said Obama. "I don't believe we should give the domestic auto industry a bailout, but I do think we can help make these companies become more competitive by providing them incentives to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. I have long proposed that the government should make a deal with the Big Three automakers that will pay for a portion of their retiree healthcare costs if they agree to invest those savings into fuel-efficient technologies. This would help preserve the domestic auto industry while helping make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. The President's meeting with the heads of the Big Three is a good start, but it will take actions and not just words to address this challenge."
Health care costs account for approximately $1,000 of the cost of each car produced by the Big Three automakers, which is more than they spend per car on steel. Last year, General Motors spent $5.3 billion on health care for 1.1 million employees, retirees and their dependents, and is currently the nation's largest private provider of health care.