A growing number of critics say the Biden administration bears the blame for the ongoing United Auto Workers’ strike that some economists warn could push the economy into a recession.
“A 10-day strike could send Michigan into recession, according to a recent economic analysis. If the work stoppage were to last six weeks — the 2019 strike at G.M. lasted 40 — it could push the U.S. economy ‘close to the edge of a recession,’ Mark Zandi, an economist for Moody’s, [said],” The New York Times reported Friday.
That would be politically catastrophic for the Biden administration, yet critics say members of the administration — particularly the president — would have nobody to blame but themselves.
“The UAW strike and indeed the ‘summer of strikes’ is the natural result of the Biden administration’s ‘whole of government’ approach to promoting unionization at all costs,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Suzanne P. Clark said in a statement Friday.
— U.S. Chamber (@USChamber) September 15, 2023
In other words, President Joe Biden and crew are to blame because they’ve spent the last couple of years gassing up unions to the point they now think they’re invincible.
“[I]t is no wonder unions feel emboldened when they see the Biden administration declaring that unions don’t actually have to win an election to be recognized, that those in management should be muzzled if they opposite unionization, and that preference for government grants and tax credits will go to shops that are unionized,” Clark added.
Even Politico, a mostly left-wing outlet, admits that the president “has worked to brand himself as the most pro-union president in modern times.”
But for what? Not much, it appears. Indeed, Politico notes that the UAW is even withholding its endorsement for Biden’s reelection bid. Tough luck.
Critics also blame the Biden administration for the strike because of how it has forced automakers to invest more and more of their resources into electric vehicles.
“I will tell you what I’m hearing around the country is that auto workers are very concerned about Joe Biden’s Green New Deal, heavy-handed effort to use taxpayer dollars to drive these automotive companies into electric vehicle production,” former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday, according to Bloomberg.
“I mean, you have 145,000 workers out there that many of them have built a lifetime of making gasoline-powered cars, and suddenly they see Joe Biden and liberal Democrats pushing down this electric vehicle agenda,” he added.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has for her part claimed that no, the EV focus isn’t to blame for the UAW strike:
“Is the [UAW] strike and the contract impasse partly a result of the president’s forced transition to electric vehicles?”
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: “No” pic.twitter.com/iDTbeoqouE
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 15, 2023
“EV sales, if you look at it, hit a record high last quarter, increased by nearly 50 percent from the same time last year. And EV prices are down 20 percent year over year, being driven in part by Inflation Reduction Act credits,” she claimed when pressed about culpability this Friday.
“So, again, thanks to the president, thanks to congressional Democrats, sales are going up and costs are coming down. And that’s what we’re seeing,” she added.
But was she right? Not really.
Case in point: “Ford (F) – only delivered 12,000 electric vehicles in the first quarter, which means that the carmaker lost $58,333 for each clean car sold during this period,” TheStreet reported in May.
“Ford explained this poor performance by higher costs, mainly higher engineering, and spending-related expenses, commodities and other inflationary pressures. Weak sales volumes are due, the carmaker said, to scheduled downtime at the Cuautitlan assembly plant in Mexico, to increase the Mach-E capacity to 35 jobs per hour,” the outlet added.
GOP senators have also echoed Pence’s concerns.
“This strike is the latest example of the folly of pursuing policy on the sake of ideology, as opposed to a clear understanding of the consequences of those decisions,” Sen. Bill Cassidy said in a statement. “Pushing to electric vehicles when the United States does not have the critical minerals, when it makes us vulnerable to Chinese supply chain, and when the UAW is now calling a strike, will endanger our economy.”
“The parties must resolve their differences and bargain in good faith towards an agreement that benefits all. It is imperative the White House push for a quick resolution to avert deepening this crisis,” he added.
Ranking Member @SenBillCassidy‘s statement on the United Auto Workers’ strike following the UAW and the nation’s 3 largest automakers failing to reach an agreement before contracts expired on Thursday night: pic.twitter.com/4saPf02uu2
— HELP Committee GOP (@GOPHELP) September 15, 2023
In a statement of his own, Sen. J.D. Vance also blamed Biden for the fiasco.
“I support the UAW’s demand for higher wages, but there is a 6,000-pound elephant in the room: the premature transition to electric vehicles. While EV supply chains are still heavily concentrated in China, the Biden administration sends billions to that industry every year,” he said.
“While most Americans want to drive a gas-powered car, the Biden administration pursues a policy explicitly designed to increase the cost of gas. They do this in the name of the environment, but all they’re doing is enriching the dirtiest economy in the world at the expense of auto workers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.”
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