President Donald Trump is telling General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra to reopen the automaker’s idled Lordstown, Ohio, plant to make ventilators for Americans in the midst of the Chinese coronavirus crisis.
During a press briefing on Friday, Trump blasted GM for decades of offshoring American jobs to foreign countries and idling its Lordstown plant last year that immediately left 1,600 GM workers laid off and thousands more in supporting industries.
Trump called on GM’s Mary Barra to reopen its Lordstown plant — which was sold in November 2019 to Workhorse Group Inc. — to make ventilators for American hospitals and patients. GM has been rumored to be opening a Lordstown plant to manufacture electric cars.
I wasn’t happy where General Motors built plants in other locations over the years. Not so much during my term, but they built a lot of plants in other countries. I won’t name the countries, but you can imagine, so I didn’t go into it with a very favorable view. I was extremely unhappy with Lordstown, Ohio, where they left Lordstown, Ohio, in the middle of an auto boom because we had 17 car companies coming in and then they were leaving one plant in Ohio. [Emphasis added]
I love Ohio, and what happens? That became the story — not that all these plants are moving in, but that you had one plant and they were leaving. And frankly, I think [Lordstown] would be a good place to build the ventilators, but we’ll see. We’ll see how that all works out. I wasn’t too thrilled. I thought we had a deal for 40,000 ventilators, and all of a sudden it became [6,000] and price became a big object. [Emphasis added]
Trump’s blasting of GM for failing to immediately ramp up production of ventilators comes as he invoked the Defense Production Act to mandate multinational corporations with plants in the U.S. to produce and manufacture needed medical supplies and equipment.
“We’re engaged in the most central mobilization since World War II,” trade adviser Peter Navarro said. “We have a wartime president fighting an invisible enemy.”
“All around this country, as this virus bears down, the ventilators are the most important thing for patients who become seriously ill. They are literally the lifeline for people,” Navarro said.
As part of an effort to close more American manufacturing plants, GM’s Mary Barra closed the Lordstown plant last year and began shuttering the Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, as well as laying off about 800 American workers at its Detroit Hamtramck Assembly plant.
American manufacturing is vital to the U.S. economy as every one manufacturing job supports an additional 7.4 American jobs in other industries. Decades of free trade, with deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have eliminated nearly five million manufacturing jobs from the American economy and resulted in the closure of about 50,000 manufacturing plants.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.