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The president visits Detroit, I re-visit the value of work

July 30, 2010 - Mike Maneval

Greg Sargent, blogging for the Washington Post, reviews comments from President Barack Obama Friday in Detroit at an auto plant. Obama defended the proactive approach the federal government took to shore up the auto industry - Chrysler and General Motors specifically - and noted the companies are turning profits again and creating jobs in the U.S.

Mocking the opponents of the administration's actions as the "just-say-no crowd," Obama relayed a quote from one Republican at the time, calling the assistance plan "the worst investment you could possibly make."

"I wish they were standing here today," the president said in Detroit. "I wish they could see what I'm seeing in this plant, and talk to the workers who are here taking pride in building a world-class vehicle ... I don't think they'd be willing to look you in the eye and say that you were a bad investment."

Sargent's response is heavy on speculation about the ramifications of Obama's tough talk on Democrats' chances in the 2010 election. While this is both understandable and his perogative, I'm more interested in the economic ramifications.

It must be remembered that the conservative movement's animus toward aid for GM and Chrysler stemmed in part from the unionized and well-paid nature of their workforces. And what I will, again, reiterate is this: Those assembly-line workers' wages supported healthy levels of consumer spending in the stores and shops of the assembly-line workers' neighbors. Those wages allowed greater opportunities for the assembly-line workers, as homeowners, to invest in the value of their houses, pumping critical tax revenues into school districts. Preserving the value of American work is not just good electoral politics for the party in power - it is the most sensible economic policy we could pursue.


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