DETROIT (WWJ) – United Auto Workers Union President Bob King thinks that with the election now over, democrats and republicans will be able to come together and deal with major issues like debt and taxes.
King expects President Obama to reach out to republicans, and the republicans to respond positively.
“I think the pragmatic politics will move some of them,” he said. “I think some of them, just because they are good Americans, and don’t want to see this gridlock continue, will move and will find middle ground with the President.”
In a wide ranging post-election interview with WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert, King said he believes that UAW members were a big help to the president’s re-election efforts. He said the aid given to GM and Chrysler turned out to be a pivotal issue.
INTERVIEW: UAW President Bob King
“I think both the jobs he created and the leadership he showed really helped him, and made a critical difference in the election.”
The president was also helped by the Romney team’s decision to keep pushing on Jeep jobs being moved to China, even after Chrysler issued a denial, and explained how the Jeeps made in China would be sold in China.
“It was a really bad political decision, I think,” said King. “It was reckless and irresponsible. In the end, it probably helped the president, so.”
King expects the president to use his second term to focus more on bringing more manufacturing jobs to the U.S.
Many observers say, a second Obama term may not look all that different from the first. Automotive News Publisher Keith Crain says any changes will be minor.
“We may see the Environmental Protection Agency becoming a little more aggressive in their relationship with the auto industry,” he said. “But, the Congress has already established Café. I don’t think we’ll see any change in trade policy.”
You will likely to see more talk of electric vehicles, says Crain, but no dramatic new initiatives.
“I think it will be very difficult for the Obama Administration to increase their support of electric vehicles. That doesn’t mean they can’t continue to support suppliers and other people that are manufacturing or supplying to the electric car business.”
While we are likely to hear less about the auto industry bailout, now that the election is over, the issue won’t go away entirely. Crain says it will remain a concern until the government sells its remaining stake in General Motors.
Mitt Romney had pledged to do that immediately after taking office. The Obama administration has been less definitive. A sale now would end a political football, but at a large cost to taxpayers.
“We are still looking at quite a sizable loss,” says Edmunds.com Chief Economist Lacey Plache. “I mean $53 a share is the break-even point for the government. GM is selling at about $25 a share. So, still quite a bit of a loss. It’s well over $10 billion.”