Flint, Michigan Interview With Joe Stroud and Remer Tyson of the Detroit Free Press.
President Jimmy Carter
October 1, 1980
Non-automotive topics removed.
UNEMPLOYMENT IN AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY
Q. Well, let's start off with the unemployment, which a lot of people are talking about in Michigan—in view of the hardship that some people in Flint, as you pointed out, have endured and so forth, explain to us how you can ask somebody who's unemployed to vote for you again. Why should he?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, you have to analyze the source of the unemployment and the reasons for it. I believe we've done everything we could to add jobs in this Nation, at an increase of 8 1/2 million in the last 3 1/2 years. The unemployment rate has been fairly stable now in spite of the tremendous adverse impact of oil prices doubling. And we've had a chance to assess the problems, specifically in the automobile industry, which is crucial to this particular area.
The fact that 'OPEC prices went up 120 percent in 1 year—and the cumulative effect of that and the previous increases have made Americans shift their buying habits for cars has created I think what's a transient problem in the automobile industry of this Nation. The manufacturers have announced collectively that they will invest about $80 billion in modernization over the next 5 years—an unprecedented investment, I might say, in any industry in our country. And I think that the new desire of American people to both produce cars and to buy the kind that we are making now is a healthy thing for the future.
We've extended unemployment compensation. The TRA program has helped to provide a transient opportunity for workers to shift and to accommodate unfair import impact. We've had a chance to increase the commitment of funds for CETA and are trying to expand the youth program. We are opening up additional opportunities for the export of American goods. We've tried and successfully tried, to keep the dollar stable. I believe that what we've done in the economic area so far has minimized the damage caused by uncontrollable and unpredictable change in American buying habits and its impact on the automobile industry.
The other thing that we've done for this industry is to form a working partnership between government and the automobile industry and, I think, we've helped to form a working partnership between management and labor in the automobile industry to deal with this crisis, but which will have a permanently beneficial impact.
I think you know that we've provided loan guarantees for Chrysler, when my opponent said, you know—what did he say exactly?
Q. "What's wrong with bankruptcy?"
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, "what's wrong with bankruptcy?" He's also characterized unemployment compensation as "prepaid insurance for loafers." He's been against the minimum wage. He's been against many of the programs that we've advocated that would be helpful in this respect.
So, I think when you compare what we've done, what we have in mind for the future, the new partnership that we have which has enthusiastically been endorsed by all the elements involved, and in comparison between me and Reagan, the arguments for voting for me are very formidable.
Q. But what you're saying is, as tough as the problems are and how the difficulty overcome, the voter would be a lot better off with you than if he was with Reagan?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I think there's no doubt about that. And the primary measure of an objective analysis would be the United Automobile Workers, and I think they've analyzed it probably as deeply and as personally and as intensely as any group could possibly do. And I believe that the message that they are sending out is to confirm what I just described to you.
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