Trump and GM’s CEO Mary Barra face off in high-stakes Oval Office...

Trump and GM’s CEO Mary Barra face off in high-stakes Oval Office meeting

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General Motors Co. (GM) CEO MARY BARRA meets with Democratic lawmakers from Michigan at Capitol Hill after GM’s announcement that they would lay off 15,000 workers and close 5 auto plants, December 6, 2018, (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian)
General Motors CEO Mary Barra met with Democratic lawmakers from Michigan on Capitol Hill on Dec. 6, 2018, after GM’s announcement that the company would lay off 15,000 workers and close five auto plants. (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian/TMN)

THE WHITE HOUSE – President Donald Trump’s meeting with General Motors CEO Mary Barra this afternoon in the Oval Office is likely to be a contentious one.

The meeting is closed to the press and GM declined to discuss with TMN the topics of discussion. But likely subjects include several closures of assembly plants in Ohio and Michigan, current United Auto Workers (UAW) contract negotiations, California’s fuel economy deal with four competing auto makers, and trade with China.

Trump has been attacking GM and Barra – in a long string of tweets throughout the 2-1/2 years of his presidency. Last week, he erroneously accused GM of moving jobs to China:

GM makes about $2 billion a year selling cars made in China to the Chinese. None of those cars are sold in the United States. The tweet came soon after Trump had called for all U.S. companies to pull back from China.

In March, Trump tore into Barra over GM’s closure of its Lordstown, Ohio plant:

A day after that tweet, Trump announced in another one that talks between GM and the UAW  an important constituency for his 2020 reelection  would open up in September:

Then in May, Trump tweeted:

Another point of contention is the possibility that GM may join Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen to comply with strict auto emissions standards drafted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), mandating average fuel efficiency of 50 miles per gallon by 2025. These standards are in line with the Environment Protection Agency’s rules under President Barack Obama. CARB’s clean air quality standards challenge Trump’s attempt to roll back those standards to 37 miles per gallon by 2025.

Trump, who calls climate change “a hoax,” tweeted in August:

Critical to the meeting between Trump and Barra, Trump’s reelection campaign is focusing on garnering votes from the UAW in critical swing states. Over Labor Day weekend, the campaign flew banners in cities where the UAW has a strong presence: Detroit; Cleveland; Milwaukee; Erie, Pa.; and Virginia Beach, Va. The banners read: “Trump-Pence thanks our great American workers” and “Text ‘Jobs’ to 88022.”

Pundits might argue that Trump needs the workers’ votes more than they need him. Claiming that the upswing of the U.S. economy depends on him, Trump told attendees at his Aug. 15 rally in Manchester, N.H.: “You have to vote for me.”

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