President Donald Trump recently tweeted that his administration is looking at “cutting all” subsidies for General Motors (GM) after it announced plant closures across the country, but Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is advising the president against doing so.
“Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland,” the president tweeted Tuesday. “The U.S. saved General motors, and this is the thanks we get! We are now looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”
Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China. The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2018
Portman, however, disagrees with cutting subsidies, which generally come in the form of tax credits for consumers who purchase electric vehicles, such as GM’s Chevy Cruze. The vehicle is currently manufactured in a plant based in Lordstown, but will be discontinued in the beginning of 2019.
“My concern about that is I don’t want to give Chinese companies an advantage,” Portman said in a conference call with reporters, according to The Business Journal. “I want to encourage innovation here.”
In a statement published later in the day, Portman shot back at critics who were suggesting that the closures were a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“To be clear, this decision has absolutely nothing to do with the new tax law. In fact, the opposite is true. Through a lower corporate rate and immediate expensing, the tax bill incentivizes companies to invest in the U.S. and would help GM bring a new vehicle to the Lordstown plant,” Portman wrote on Twitter.
I’m disappointed in @GM’s decision to shut down the Lordstown plant because the Chevy Cruze was not selling well. To be clear, this decision has absolutely nothing to do with the new tax law.
— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) November 28, 2018
“We’ve seen countless multinational companies responding to this new level playing field by bringing jobs and investment back into the U.S. in response to the new tax law,” he added.
Portman’s colleague, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), proposed an alternative solution, suggesting Congress reconsider legislation he introduced in August that would grant consumers a $3,500 discount on American-made cars, according to The Associated Press.
“There are two simple parts: customers who buy cars made in America get a discount and corporations that send jobs overseas lose a special tax break,” Brown said in an August press release announcing his bill. “We shouldn’t be handing out 50 percent off coupons to companies that send jobs overseas.”
Brown also challenged Trump, who partially blamed Brown for the plant closure, to support his American Cars, American Jobs Act.
.@realDonaldTrump, I’ll compare my record standing up for Ohio & American workers to yours any day. Instead of giving companies tax breaks to shut down American factories & lay off workers, why haven’t you supported the American Cars American Jobs Act? -SB https://t.co/2vMXfr9wjq https://t.co/qo8WpsReqo
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) November 28, 2018
“I’ll compare my record standing up for Ohio and American workers to yours any day,” Brown said in response. “Instead of giving companies tax breaks to shut down American factories and lay off workers, why haven’t you supported the American Cars American Jobs Act?”
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