Tags: Michigan | Ford | plant | State of the Union

Obama Previews State of the Union at Idle Michigan Ford Plant

Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 06:22 PM

As Republicans enjoy their second day in control of both chambers of Congress, President Barack Obama delivered a sunny assessment of the U.S. economy to preview the State of the Union address he’ll deliver later this month.

“America’s resurgence is real,” Obama told a crowd of about 750 autoworkers and executives at a Ford Motor Co. plant in Wayne, Michigan.

With those remarks on Wednesday, and speeches scheduled for later this week in Phoenix and Knoxville, Tennessee, Obama is focusing on three pieces of what he wants as his economic legacy: the revival of the U.S. auto industry, spurring the housing market and making college more affordable.

Obama used a Ford assembly line as the backdrop for his message that the U.S. economy has improved under his watch in part because of the auto industry rescue. Ford, based in nearby Dearborn, was the only one of the three largest U.S. automakers that didn’t get a government bailout in 2009.

“The jobs in the auto industry have always been about more than a paycheck,” Obama said. “They’re a source of pride.”

In a twist, the plant’s assembly operations are idle an extra week after other Ford plants shut down Dec. 24 through Jan. 4 for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The Michigan Assembly Plant makes small and mid-size Fords that are powered by gasoline, hybrid gasoline-electric and plug-in electric, and lower demand for those vehicles amid plunging oil prices created excess inventory.

“A critical lesson Ford learned during the financial crisis was the importance of being nimble, constantly matching capacity to demand,” Christin Baker, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “Our production reflects market realities.”

Obama, who is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Union address Jan. 20, was joined at the plant by Ford Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields, who took over the job in July, and Chairman Bill Ford, a member of the family that founded the company.

The plant is the only one in the world to build vehicles that are gasoline-powered, hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid on the same production line, according to Ford. The plant is also the first in the U.S. to use a paint application that uses about $3 million less natural gas and electricity per year.

Vehicles made there include the Focus and C-MAX.

With the resurgence of the auto industry, Obama said, “Ford has brought jobs back from Mexico, created nearly 24,000 new jobs across the country, including nearly 1,800 new jobs here at this plant.”

U.S. light-vehicle sales totaled 16.5 million last year, the most since 2006, and 58 percent more than in 2009, the year that General Motors Co. and Chrysler restructured in government-funded bankruptcies.

Deliveries are projected to rise to 16.7 million this year, which would be a sixth-straight increase, the longest streak since at least World War II.

On Thursday in Phoenix, Obama will announce a cut in Federal Housing Administration mortgage-insurance premiums, according to three people with direct knowledge of his plans.

As part of an effort to expand homeownership among entry-level buyers, Obama will announce that the annual fees the agency charges to guarantee mortgages will be cut by 0.5 percentage points, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the White House hasn’t yet made the announcement.

Obama has tried to expand homeownership, especially for people with lower incomes.

On Friday, Obama travels to Knoxville to talk about making it easier to attend college affordably and to announce a private-sector manufacturing partnership, White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote Wednesday in a column on Medium.com.

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As Republicans enjoy their second day in control of both chambers of Congress, President Barack Obama delivered a sunny assessment of the U.S. economy to preview the State of the Union address he'll deliver later this month."America's resurgence is real," Obama told a crowd...
Michigan, Ford, plant, State of the Union
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2015-22-07
Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 06:22 PM
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