President Barack Obama is downsizing his automobile-sector working group to include just the Secretary of Labor, according to a new executive order released midday.
The decision removes 24 Cabinet-level officials from the federal working group, which was formed June 2009 as the “White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers.” (Car manufacturers overwhelmingly oppose new EPA-approved E15 fuel)
The officials who were dismissed from the panel had little to do with the auto industry, and include the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
From 2008 to 2009, the auto industry shed roughly 400,000 jobs, and government officials effectively took control of two of the ‘Big Three’’ auto companies, General Motors and Chrysler.
The White House’s new order formally eliminates the 2009 council, and transfers its role to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. “The purpose of this order is to continue the coordinated Federal response to factors affecting automotive communities and workers and to ensure that Federal programs and policies address these concerns,” said the order, titled “Coordinating Policies on Automotive Communities and Workers.”
“Over the past 2 years my Administration has undertaken coordinated efforts on behalf of automotive communities, … [provided] technical and financial assistance… set aside funds for green jobs and job training … [and] provided funds specifically for automotive communities to develop plans for economic recovery,“ said the statement, which was signed by Obama.
During the last few months, Obama has repeatedly visited manufacturing-related centers located in swing states, such as Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia. To win in 2012, he needs to push up his polling numbers in working-class communities.
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