Ohio Senators discuss General Motors plant closings

Published: Nov. 28, 2018 at 6:11 PM EST
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General Motors announcement this week it is planning to close several of its manufacturing and auto assembly plants has raised President Trump's ire.

It also has touched off a debate between congressional members-including Ohio's two U.S. Senators-about whether the last year's legislative tax cuts were behind GM's move.

That announcement, made Monday, coincided with another call by the iconic U.S. auto maker it is planning to open a plant in Mexico.

One of the plants slated for a shutdown is located in Lordstown, Ohio, near Youngstown. The Chevrolet Cruze, which GM plans to discontinue, is built there.

Republican Senator Rob Portman defends the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill, approved at the end of 2017. He says it was intended to help manufacturers keep, and even expand their domestic plants.

"The tax bill lowers our corporate rate, it also provides an incentive to invest in plants like the one in Lordstown," Sen. Portman said in an interview Wednesday with CNBC. "It's actually much more likely they would invest in the United States, and I would hope in Ohio, than anywhere else."

President Trump, appearing earlier this year in Youngstown, also cited the tax cuts in promising a manufacturing rebirth in that region.

But Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown told The News Center Wednesday one of that bill's incentives should be replaced with one encouraging car buyers to choose American-made vehicles, like the Cruze manufactured in Ohio.

"They literally get 50% off their taxes if they shut down in Ohio and move overseas." said Sen. Sherrod Brown. "It takes those dollars and use them as incentives for car buyers in this country to buy cars made in the United States of America."

Regarding the president's call-more like a threat-to rescind federal subsidies for GM, Brown calls that a minor issue compared to the tax incentives.

Trump tweeted Tuesday his administration is "looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars". The latter is a reference to vehicles like the electric Chevrolet Volt, also reportedly on the company's discontinued list.

The GM announcement Monday was similar to one made by Ford several months ago. Ford is planning to discontinue all of its sedans, leaving popular SUV's, pickup trucks, and the long-classic Mustang as its offerings.