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How Automobiles Work


The President: Thank
you, everybody! (applause) Give Mia a big round
of applause for that outstanding introduction. (applause) Well, hello,
Michigan! (applause) Happy New Year to
everybody. Audience: Happy
New Year! Audience Member:
I love you! The President: I
— what was that? I love you back. (laughter) I want to thank all
the outstanding leaders that we’ve got here today. I want to introduce
some of them. We’ve got Secretary of
Labor Tom Perez here. (applause) We’ve got Detroit
Mayor Mike Duggan here. (applause) Senator Gary
Peters is in the house. (applause) Congresswoman Debbie
Dingell is here. (applause) Your outstanding CEO,
Mark Fields, is here. (applause) Now, I have to say I
love the Secret Service, I love the Beasts that they
put me in and — that’s what we call the cars I
drive in, “the Beasts.” So I like my ride
these days. And it was made
in Michigan, too. (applause) But I just had a chance
to look at these new Mustangs, and I’ve got to say
that the Mustangs have a little more style, a
little more flavor. (laughter and applause) Bill Ford is in
the house. (applause) Surprisingly enough,
we talked a little bit about Sunday. (laughter) Now, listen,
I’m a Bears fan. You beat us twice. But even a Bears
fan has to admit — Audience Member:
We got hosed! The President: — that
that was a little suspect. (applause) I have never seen anything
like that before. I would have been
pretty irritated. Were you irritated? Oh, yes. (laughter) But all I can say — because
I’m used to saying this, I’m a Bears fan —
there’s always next year. (laughter) And look, you’ve got a
lot to be hopeful for. First of all, you’ve
got one of the best defenses in the league. (applause) A fine young
quarterback, Megatron. And if there’s one thing that
you can take to the bank when talking about Detroit is that
Detroit always comes back. (applause) Detroit always
comes back. (applause) And that’s why I’m
here today. One of my New Year’s
resolutions is to make sure that more Americans in Wayne,
more Americans in Michigan, more Americans all across
this great country — that everybody feels like
they’re coming back. And there is no doubt,
thanks to the steps that we took early on
to rescue our economy and to rebuild it on a
new foundation, we are entering into the New Year
with new confidence that America is coming back. (applause) Now, you don’t have to
take my word for it. The facts are the facts. And let’s face it, a lot of
times the media doesn’t like reporting on good news,
but every once in a while, it’s important for us
to hear some good news, not to make us complacent, but
to give us confidence that if we work harder, we can
make even more good news. So here’s how we
begin this year. Last year, 2014, was the
strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. (applause) Since the 1990s. (applause) We’ve now had a 57-month
streak of private sector job creation. We’ve created nearly
11 million new jobs. That’s the longest
stretch in our history of private sector,
uninterrupted job creation. (applause) Here’s another way of
thinking about it. Since 2010, we, America, have
put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every
other advanced economy combined. (applause) Combined. (applause) And let me tell you
what’s leading the way: American manufacturing. After a decade of decline,
American manufacturing is in its best stretch of
job growth since the 1990s. Here in Michigan,
manufacturers have created more than
100,000 jobs, helping to cut your unemployment
rate in half. So we’re making more stuff. We’re selling it
around the world. America is the number-one
producer of oil, the number-one
producer of gas. It’s helping to save
drivers about a buck-ten a gallon at the pump over
this time last year. (applause) And the cars that you
make help everybody go a little further on
that gallon of gas. (applause) Thanks to the
Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — (applause) — about 10 million Americans
gained health insurance just over this last year. We’ve cut our deficits
by about two-thirds. I’d like people to
think about that, because when they
do surveys of, like, ordinary folks on the
street and they ask them, are the deficits going up
or are they coming down, everybody automatically
assumes, well, government spending and
deficits must be going up. Deficits have come
down by two-thirds since I took office
— by two-thirds. They’re going down. (applause) And after 13 long
years, our war in Afghanistan has
come to a responsible end, which means more of our
brave troops have come home and spent time with their
families during the holidays. (applause) So the point is
we’re moving. These six years have been
tough, demanded hard work, demanded sacrifice
on everybody’s part. You guys know that
more than most. Which means that as a
country, we have every right to be proud of what
we’ve got to show for all that hard work. America’s
resurgence is real. Don’t let anybody
tell you otherwise. We’ve got the best cards
and we are doing better than just about
anybody else on Earth. And now that we’ve got
some calmer waters, now that the worst of
the crisis is behind us, if we all do our part,
if we all pitch in, then we can make sure
that this rising tide is actually lifting all
the boats, not just some. We can make sure that the
middle class is the engine that powers American
prosperity for decades to come. And that’s going to be
the focus of my State of the Union
address in a couple of weeks — building on the progress
that we’ve already made. But I’ve got to admit I’ve only
got two years left in office — I didn’t want to wait for
the State of the Union to talk about all the things
that make this country great and how we
can make it better. So I thought I’d get
started this week. (applause) I figured, why wait? It’s like opening your Christmas
presents a little early. So today I’m here in Detroit,
going to talk about the incredible things that have
happened in the auto industry and what more we can
do with manufacturing. Tomorrow, I’m going
to visit Arizona, a state that was hit about as
hard as anybody by the housing crisis, because we want to
talk about how we’re making homeownership a reality for
more middle-class families. On Friday, I’m going
to go to Tennessee, a state that’s making big
strides in education, to show how we can help
every American get the education they need to get
ahead in this new economy. But today, I wanted to come here
to Michigan because this state proves no matter how tough times
get Americans are tougher. (applause) Plus I wanted to see
the new Mustang. (laughter) Now, let’s just take a
minute and think about what you’ve had
to fight through. A few years ago, nearly
one in five autoworkers got a punch in the
gut with a pink slip. The year before I
took office, 400,000 jobs vanished in this
industry — 400,000. Sales plunged 40 percent. And then as the
financial crisis built, we faced what once seemed
unimaginable when just two of the Big Three
— GM and Chrysler — were on the brink
of failure. Now, this is the
heartbeat of American manufacturing right here. And it was flat-lining. And we had a choice to make. We could have kept giving
billions of taxpayer dollars to the auto industry without
asking for accountability or change in return. But that would have just kicked
the problem down the road. We could have done
nothing, which some people said we should do, and
let those companies fail. But think about what that would
have meant for this country. The suppliers, the
distributors, the communities that depend on the workers
who patronize the restaurants and shop at the stores, all
those companies would have gone under also. And, look, the fact is
nobody was in a stronger position than Ford. Bill and the team had done
a great job steering Ford through tough times, but Bill
and others are the first to admit that you could
have had a cascading effect if the whole supply
chain in the U.S. auto industry
starts declining. Then Ford could have
gone under, too. Plants would have shuttered. We would have lost this iconic
industry, sold for scraps. And folks like you — the men
and women who built these companies with your hands
— would have been hung out to dry. And the communities
you depended on — the schoolteachers, the small
business owners, the servers in the diner and, let’s
face it, the barkeep — (laughter and applause) I’m just saying. (laughter) Are you a barkeep,
or you’re just waving at me? (laughter) But everybody would have
been affected. Their jobs were at
stake, too. And it’s more than that. The jobs in the auto
industry have always been about more
than a paycheck. They’re a source of
pride for generations. It was representative of
what it meant to get into the middle class. You work hard in this job, you
could afford to raise a family, buy a house, go on vacation,
retire with some dignity. You knew you were making
something that people could count on. It meant something. Every car you sent off
the line brought you that step closer to doing the
right thing by your family and giving something
to your kids, and having a sense of
security in your life. So plants like this one built
more than just cars — they built the middle
class in this country. And that was worth
fighting for. (applause) So in exchange
for the help, we demanded responsibility. We said to the auto
industry, you’ve got to change with the times. Plants retooled. Plants restructured. Labor and management
worked together, settled their
differences. Everybody put some
skin in the game. Everybody made
some sacrifices. It wasn’t just some, it
wasn’t just the workers who gave something up
— everybody. And that’s how things
work best, by the way, when everybody is in it — when
workers and businesses work together; when whoever is
in the board room and folks on the floor,
they both understand they’re in it together. And we believe America
is best when everybody is in it together. And we rejected the false
choice that either unions or businesses could
succeed but not both. We said, you know what, what’s
going to work for the company is also going to work for
that worker, and vice versa, which means when the
company is doing better, then the workers have got
to get their share as well. (applause) And Ford rejected the false
choice that they could either take care of
their shareholder or take care of their
worker — they did both. And the company benefited
and America benefited. We believed in shared
sacrifice and that shared sacrifice leads
to shared prosperity. Now, I’ve got to tell
you, I was talking to the Detroit News — they were asking, what
was it like when you were making
this decision? I just want everybody
to be clear. It was not popular. Even in Michigan,
it wasn’t popular. I remember they did a poll
and, like, in Michigan, it was like only 10
percent were in favor. (laughter) And you don’t have to be a
genius political analyst to say, 10 percent
is not very high. (laughter) And, look — and it
wasn’t on my to-do list when I ran for President. I wasn’t expecting
to have to do this. But I ran not to be just
doing the popular things, I ran not just to
do the easy things, I ran to do the right thing. And saving the American
auto industry was the right thing to do. (applause) Betting on you was the
right thing to do. (applause) It was the
right thing to do. And that bet has
paid off for America, because the American
auto industry is back. (applause) Now, part of the reason
that we wanted to start this trip here is not just
because I wanted to see the new Mustang, not just because the
American auto industry is back, but because last month we
actually marked a milestone. Last month, the rescue of
the auto industry officially came to an end. The auto companies have now
repaid taxpayers every dime and more of what my
administration invested in you. (applause) You paid the taxpayers
back with your hard work, with your dedication. (applause) And over the past
five years, this industry created
about 500,000 new jobs. Last year, American
autoworkers churned out cars faster than any
year since 2005. Ford has brought jobs back
from Mexico, created nearly 24,000 new jobs across
this country, including 1,800 new jobs right
here in this plant. (applause) And after more than a
century since Henry Ford introduced the
moving assembly line, you’re reinventing it —
one production line for gas, electric, hybrid,
plug-in vehicles. That’s the first in the world,
right here in Wayne, Michigan. (applause) First in the world. (applause) That’s always cool when you
do something first. And you’re helping
rebuild the middle class for the 21st century. Just down the road
in Lincoln Park, UAW-Ford Joint
Apprenticeship Program is providing workers
with hands-on training in the skills that employers
need for the jobs of tomorrow. And nationally, by the way, 87
percent of all apprentices are employed after they complete
their apprenticeship program, with an average starting
wage of $50,000. So the more folks we get
into apprenticeships, the more folks are getting
middle-class jobs. And that’s why I called on
last year for businesses across the country to
create more and expand more apprenticeship
programs. And since then, we’ve seen
the largest increase in apprenticeships in
nearly a decade. And now my administration
is investing $100 million in an American Apprenticeship
Grant competition. We’re going to build
on this momentum. We’re going to expand
successful programs. We want young people to see
that they have opportunities. They don’t all have to go
to a four-year college. They can get an
apprenticeship, save some money,
start working — (applause) — build a family, buy a home,
get some Lions tickets. (laughter and applause) Because everybody
came together here and worked together,
folks are better off. And some of the most high-tech,
fuel-efficient, high-powered, heart-pounding,
good-looking, well-designed, fuel-efficient cars in the
world are once again designed, engineered, forged and built
not in Europe, not in Asia, right here in the United
States of America. (applause) Right here in America. (applause) So because of
you — because of you, manufacturing has a
future in this country. Management has actually
grown faster than other parts of the economy. And companies are now
saying, you know what, we got to get back
to America. We got to relocate. We were offshore, and
now they’re saying, oh, oh, America
is back. We better get
back in there. And that means
because of you, the middle class has a
future in this country. And the auto industry has
proved that any comeback is possible — and by the
way, so has Motor City. (applause) So has a Motor City. (applause) A year and a half ago,
Detroit became the largest city ever to file
for bankruptcy. Today, under the leadership
of Mayor Duggan, Detroit is charting
a new course. Businesses and private investors
are making big investments, including Ford, which
is helping to launch a tech startup
incubator downtown. New restaurants and
stores are popping up. Residents are fighting blight,
securing abandoned homes, cleaning up neglected
neighborhoods. We’re seeing stories of young
people who left town for other opportunities, didn’t think
they could make it here, and suddenly they’re
saying, you know what, maybe I want to get
back to Detroit — hoping to be part of the
rebirth of this city. Now, this city still
faces big challenges, but you’re coming back. Just like the auto industry
is going to have to continue to come up with
new ideas and new designs and address competition. It never stops. We got to stay hungry. We can’t be complacent. Just like America has got
to still keep on working. Just like the Lions got
to still come up with a little more work. (applause) But we’re
coming back. And one thing is for sure —
we may not all root for the Lions, but America
is rooting for Detroit. (applause) America is rooting
for Detroit. (applause) We want the Motor
City strong. And behind the stories of
plants and cities and economic data,
it’s people. It’s all of you. So I’ll just close with a
story of a guy named Ramone — because we’re rooting
for guys like Ramone. Ramone spent eight years
in the military, served in Afghanistan,
served in Iraq. Ramone here? Raise your hand, Ramone. (applause) So Ramone is somebody who
fought for our freedom, fought for our security. But sometimes we give lip
service to supporting our troops, and then when they
come home they get lost. So when Ramone came home,
he had a hard time finding a job because
it was a tough economy. He didn’t want to be a
burden on his family, so he moved into a
homeless shelter, took whatever work
he could get. And then, one day in 2012, a
VA counselor that he’d been working with handed him
an application from Ford. Ford was hiring
for new shifts. Imagine what Ramone
felt the day he knocked on his grandpa’s door — his
grandfather who had spent 25 years building
Mustangs in Dearborn — and Ramone was able to tell
his grandfather he got a job at Ford. (applause) And now Ramone
has got his own place. And now Ramone has got
a good job right on the line
here in Wayne. And every day, he’s doing just
what his grandfather did. And he’s proud. He’s punching in
and building some of the best cars
in the world. (applause) If you want to know what
America is about, about grit and determination
and hard work and sacrifice and looking out for one
another and not giving up, think about Ramone. Think about Detroit. Think about the
auto industry. Think about
the Midwest. Think about Michigan. Think about America. When our assembly lines grind
to a halt, we work together, we get them going again. We don’t give up. We get up, we fight back. We come back
stronger than before. Thanks to the hard work
of people like you, America is coming back. And I’m going to be on your
side every step of the way. (applause) Thank you, Michigan. God bless you. God bless America. (applause)

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