Trump Retweets Call for GM to Return Bailout Funds

‘The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get!’…

General Motors assembly photo

GM assembly plant in Janesville, Ohio/Photo by cliff1066™ (CC)

(John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call) President Donald Trump retweeted a supporter’s call for General Motors to repay billions to the federal government it received as part of last decade’s auto industry bailout.

He also warned GM the White House is studying moves he can take using his executive powers to punish the company.

The president shared with his 56 million Twitter followers a tweet by an account with the handle @The—Trump—Train that criticized GM for cutting jobs and production at facilities in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. It also suggested the automaker return over $10 billion in federal monies it received in the late 2000s to stay afloat.

“If GM doesn’t want to keep their jobs in the United States, they should pay back the $11.2 billion bailout that was funded by the American taxpayer,” the Trump fan account wrote with the president’s endorsement.

That followed several Tuesday presidential tweets, which the White House has said are official policy statements, saying he is “Very disappointed” with GM for ceasing work at facilities in those states but “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 … … ..for electric cars,” he wrote in two Tuesday afternoon tweets.

On Wednesday morning, the president called for Congress to pass legislation installing a 25 percent tariff on small trucks. He argued that would make U.S.-made vehicles of the same class more competitive and create jobs at home. And he announced the study of executive powers that could allow him to punish GM on his own — without congressional approval, which might be difficult to acquire.

“Get smart Congress. Also, the countries that send us cars have taken advantage of the U.S. for decades,” Trump wrote. “The President has great power on this issue — Because of the G.M. event, it is being studied now!”

Lawmakers from states with a heavy auto industry presence would likely move to try to block any White House effort to cut off federal subsidies, possibly setting up a showdown between Trump and Rust Belt Republican members.

For the president, it’s not just about the bailout. He also believes GM will reap benefits from the new Mexico-United States-Canada trade deal his administration worked out with America’s neighbors, but “turned their back” on him despite his pushing for the pro-auto industry provisions, Lawrence Kudlow, chief White House economic adviser, said Tuesday.

Ohio and Michigan were keys to the president’s 2016 win over Democrat Hillary Clinton. He has promised to bring back and maintain industrial-sector jobs, including during rallies in Ohio — meaning the GM announcement could feed his 2020 opponents if Trump is unable to push the car-maker into restoring at least some of the positions.

White House officials say GM executives have told Trump and Kudlow they are open to considering transferring work on more competitive models to the Ohio, Michigan and Maryland plants. But, so far, the company has yet to announce any moves as Trump applies pressure.

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