On Monday, General Motors (GM) announced it would be laying off 15 percent of its workforce and closing five assembly plants, four of those in the United States, partially as a result of the ongoing trade war begun by President Donald Trump when he placed tariffs on goods from Canada, China, and the European Union earlier this year.
But according to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, those layoffs have nothing to do with Trump.
Speaking with reporters outside the White House Tuesday morning, Conway was asked about the GM layoffs, to which she responded:
“There’s a record number of manufacturing jobs created on his watch. Manufacturing was flat on its back it was an industry that was not prioritized by the last administration, up there with mining, construction, manufacturing and this president has prioritized them because they are the forgotten man or forgotten woman.”
Conway then said what sounded like a suggestion that if Trump were leading General Motors, things would be different. At the same time, she tried to remove any blame that might be associated with her boss for the massive loss of jobs in the industrial Midwest from the automakers layoff announcement:
“And the President doesn’t run GM. He runs the country’s economy and that’s why the confidence and optimism numbers are up the growth numbers are up the unemployment is way down.”
Trump said Monday that he would “put a lot of pressure” on General Motors to open new plants in the United States. Conway referenced those remarks during her Q&A with the press Tuesday morning but provide zero in the way of specifics:
“He expressed his disappointment just yesterday in front of all of you on the south lawn. I’ll let his statements speak for themselves.
“He has expressed disappointment in GM and feels that this country has been very good to GM and that that is a particular vehicle that’s not selling, but he will not abandon or betray the forgotten men or forgotten women in manufacturing.”
But some GM workers say they do indeed blame Trump for their pending joblessness. Tommy Wolikow, HuffPost reports, bought Trump’s promises that the auto industry would boom if the former real estate mogul was elected president:
“I believed what he said, and at that moment it turned me into a Trump supporter. It made me feel that he wasn’t lying and he was being honest.”
But on Monday, Wolikow admitted:
“It’s really hard to be a Trump supporter at a time like this.”
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