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Rust Belt Republicans ‘deeply frustrated’ with GM job cuts, as Democrats blame Trump

President Donald Trump speaks at the start of a meeting with automobile leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in 2017. At left is General Motors CEO Mary Barra, whose company announced massive job cuts and plant closings on Monday.
President Donald Trump speaks at the start of a meeting with automobile leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in 2017. At left is General Motors CEO Mary Barra, whose company announced massive job cuts and plant closings on Monday. AP

Carmaker General Motors announced Monday it would cut as many as 14,000 jobs across North America — and it didn’t take long for the political finger-pointing to begin.

Democrats in Ohio, where a Lordstown GM plant is set to close in March 2019, placed blame as much on President Trump as on the automaker.

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio urged the president “to keep his word when he came to the Mahoning Valley last year and promised jobs were ‘all coming back. They’re all coming back. Don’t move. Don’t sell your house.’ ”

Ryan said he didn’t like what he’d seen so far, and criticized Trump’s corporate tax cut as a giveaway that did little to help workers. GM earnings figures show that tax reform has been a $157 million windfall for the auto giant this year so far, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“President Trump has been asleep at the switch and owes this community an explanation,” Ryan said.

As many as five plants could close, with the automaker planning to cut 8,000 white-collar positions in North America and possibly cutting 2,600 blue-collar jobs in the U.S., the Associated Press reported. The job-cutting comes as the automaker moves to boost its truck and SUV production, in a shift away from sedans, according to AP.

Ryan said GM has already slashed 3,000 jobs at the GM plant in Lordstown in the last two years.

“Corporations like General Motors and the President himself are the only ones benefiting from this economy — an economy rigged against workers who are playing by the rules but still not getting ahead,” Ryan said.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio also hit GM on the timing of the job and factory cuts, saying in a statement that “it’s shameful that the company is now abandoning the Mahoning Valley and laying off workers right before the holidays.”

Brown took aim at the tax cuts, too.

“Even worse, the company reaped a massive tax break from last year’s GOP tax bill and failed to invest that money in American jobs, choosing to build its Blazer in Mexico,” Brown said. “This decision is corporate greed at its worst.”

Rust Belt Republicans also were angry about GM’s decision, though they trained their focus on the company itself, rather than on the president or the recent tax cuts.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said he was “deeply frustrated with General Motors’ decision” and “disappointed with how the hardworking employees there have been treated throughout this process.”

Portman said he has spoken to GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, and asked her to consider producing other vehicles in Lordstown.

Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, said it was “painful” to see the layoffs hitting workers, their families and the community.

But Kasich also hit a positive note that pointed to the country’s low unemployment rate.

“Even though this is frustrating news, hardworking, skilled men and women are in demand, and we’re going to do everything we can to help the families affected have access to other opportunities,” Kasich said.

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