In their bid to lock down Ohio and keep Michigan in the blue, the Obama campaign has touted few narratives quite as keenly as the “Obama saved the American auto industry with his bailouts and has since saved/created countless America manufacturing jobs” narrative, while actively criticizing Mitt Romney for what they deceptively characterize as a “let them eat cake” attitude toward Detroit.
In an open letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta published on Monday, United Auto Workers President Bob King put something of a damper on that well-trumpeted narrative, slamming the Obama administration’s cancellation of battle tank upgrades because of the potential for job losses in the industrial and manufacturing-heavy Midwest.
On behalf of the UAW’s more than one million active and retired members, I write to express our concern with the Army’s proposal to end tank modernization. This plan places in jeopardy our armor industrial base and would result in the loss of thousands of good paying manufacturing jobs across the United States.
American workers have been building tanks since 1941 and UAW members in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are proud of our contributions to ensure our armed forces are the best equipped and the most protected. For 20 years, Pentagon policy has been to build tanks today to ensure the ability to do so in the future.
The Army’s proposal, however, puts at great risk this specialized, highly-skilled, high-wage workforce that makes up the unique armor industrial base, which includes over 800 large and small critical suppliers around the United States. It places at risk 1,000 UAW jobs in central Ohio.
Did that irresistibly recall Obama’s condescending “horses and bayonets” lecture (which actually demonstrated how poorly he understands military operations, not Mitt Romney) to anyone else’s mind? And as King writes, the UAW has more than a million total active and retired members, and is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. Although he doesn’t mention Obama by name, his indictment echoes criticisms that Team Romney has made in local ads in the Midwest that directly impugn the Pentagon and White House’s decision to push back on Congress’ request to expand the Abrams tank program. Manufacturing jobs, and national security policy? Two birds, one stone. I’d wager that this is a most unwelcome development in Obamaland.