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Rev. Jesse Jackson Reacts to the Administration's Restructuring of General Motors

March 30, 2009

“The firing of Richard G. Wagoner raises concerns that ripple through the heart of our community. Wagoner, who was forced out of leadership, brought knowledge, credibility and sensitivity to the automotive industry with his 30-plus-years of experience.

While challenging leadership is understandable, the Administration must also address our economic infrastructure. Wagoner seemed to be held to a different standard than those financial leaders who ultimately lead us into this economic disaster, and congressional leaders who provided no oversight.

When you globalize capital, you must globalize workers’ rights. Due to high tariffs and the current NAFTA agreement, American made automobiles are not heavily sold abroad. In countries such as Korea, Japan and Switzerland, the government invests in research, new technology and universal healthcare--all factors that contribute to a reduced purchase price for consumers. U.S. auto manufacturers pay $1,500 per car for health insurance. This alone tilts the playing field.

If the U.S. auto industry was afforded the same deal banks received, it too would be more competitive. Banks got gifts without proper oversight and still refuse to lend to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs and home foreclosures. The auto industry was denied a low interest loan to be paid back on a timely basis. The industry should have been given the opportunity to borrow from the banks rather than having to go to the government.

Laying off an additional 47,000 auto workers and the potential 25% reduction in the number of U.S. car dealerships will only exacerbate the home foreclosure crisis and intensify the nations $600 billion dollar student loan debt. Such circumstances will lead to an adverse outcome for American communities. The tax base in urban neighborhoods will erode further, ultimately affecting public schools, police, and fire departments.

We seem to be focused on stimulating the banking industry rather than restructuring our economy. We must see this economic crisis through a door and not just a keyhole.”

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366