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Joe Biden: Michigan, put your faith in Team Joe

Joe Biden

It was only 11 years ago that the heart and soul of Michigan’s economy — the American auto industry — was teetering on the brink of collapse. Car sales had dropped by 40% overnight. Banks were freezing access to credit. Auto plants were cutting shifts, putting their own future prospects, and those of so many Michigan families, into doubt.

I will never forget the details of those first briefings from our economic team after President Obama and I took office: Homes had been abandoned, water pipes were crumbling, half of the street lights had gone out across Detroit. Republicans argued that we should stand aside and let the market work its will — if the auto industry disappeared, so be it.

Of course, we never considered abandoning Michigan autoworkers or the places that raised them — not for one second. Barack Obama wouldn’t stand for it. Michigan state and congressional leaders wouldn’t stand for it. And as the son of an automobile man, I certainly wouldn’t stand for it.

Michigan residents know the rest of the story. The Obama-Biden Administration bet on autoworkers, bet on Detroit, and bet on the heart of American manufacturing. Despite polls showing 60% of the public was opposed to the idea, we invested $80 billion to resuscitate GM and Chrysler and jump-start the state economy. Many Republicans and a fair number of Democrats stood against us at the time — Sen. Bernie Sanders was among those who voted against the auto rescue funds. But we fought for it, and we got it done anyway.

That choice saved 1.5 million jobs and an essential U.S. industry — and in the end, the industry came roaring back. Those jobs made an enormous difference across Michigan and the rest of the country, of course, but they don’t tell the whole story of the auto rescue. Because so many autoworkers’ families could get back on their feet, local restaurants stayed open. Local barber shops stayed open. Thousands of small businesses stayed open, and new ones sprung up. The street lights came back on.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Los Angeles.

I was proud to oversee the Recovery Act, which rejuvenated Michigan schools, roads, and bridges. Then, we made additional investments in the future of Detroit — money that paid for new buses and a new streetcar line, the salaries of firefighters, and the revitalization of abandoned homes and blighted neighborhoods. Our investment in an advanced manufacturing institute in the city has helped the auto industry stay on the cutting edge, developing new lightweight metals that improve fuel efficiency. The Motor City started humming to life again.

But if we allow Donald Trump’s chronic mismanagement to continue, all of that progress the Obama-Biden Administration and Michigan leaders fought for will decay. Wages will continue to sputter, and American manufacturing will slide into a deep recession.

As president, I will not stand by and allow Michigan to slip backwards. I will invest $1 trillion to revitalize our national infrastructure — repairing highways, creating a modern clean power grid, and building a green economy that allows U.S. manufacturing to compete for the long haul. Our investments would make America the world leader in electric vehicle production, backed by good-paying union jobs, new skills training programs, and strong worker protections.

We’ll give small manufacturers the resources they need to lift up their local communities — and make Michigan the world leader in low-carbon manufacturing hubs. And we’ll end Donald Trump’s war on labor by standing up for union organizing, passing a $15 minimum wage, ending pay discrimination, and restoring overtime pay.  In short, we’re going to rebuild the middle class — and ensure that, this time, everyone comes along.

That’s the sort of progress that makes a real, tangible difference in people’s lives — and getting there requires more than vague promises or calls for a revolution. It requires sound economic judgment, inclusive leadership, and the ability to actually get things done for people in the toughest of environments. I put my faith in Michigan in the depths of the Great Recession — and if you believe, as I do, that our greatest days still lie ahead, I hope that you’ll put your faith in Team Joe on Tuesday.

Joe Biden is former vice president of the United States and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.