Ed Schultz talks to The President of the United Steelworkers of America, Leo Gerard about the cash for clunkers program, and the need to restore a man
August 1, 2009

Ed Schultz talks to The President of the United Steelworkers of America, Leo Gerard about the cash for clunkers program, and the need to restore a manufacturing base and invest in infrastructure in the United States. I'm glad to see Ed Schultz having people like Gerard on his show. He's one of the better, plain spoken, honest brokers who stands up for working people I've seen out there representing the union movement and the working class in the United States, which is sorely disregarded or berated by the majority of the chattering class in our media.

Schultz: Just a couple of months ago, labor organized this big bus tour covering some thirty states and the mission of that tour was to basically save the car industry, stimulate sales. The steel workers pushed the program cash for clunkers. This turned out to be the most successful incentive program the government's ever had. For more on that let me bring in Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steel workers. Leo, how good of a sign is this that we're seeing consumers react, I think that's the big thing, consumers are reacting. How encouraged are you by this?

Gerard: Look, I think it's a very positive sign and I'm really excited because as you say, we did thirty four cities in eleven states talking about a need to stimulate demand for the automobile industry, and I think that tour helped to do that. And listening to you and Verge right now, I've got to tell you that you're all on the right track. We need to do more of this. We need to stimulate more demand. We need to stimulate more manufacturing and we ought not to be ashamed of what we're doing.

The President of France said he's going to put eight billion, eight billion with a "b" into their cash for clunkers program, on the condition that all that money would have to be spent on cars produced in France. For us in the steel workers union, we don't assemble cars, but it's our tires, our steel, our aluminum, our glass, our plastic that goes into those cars, so once those cars start moving off the show room, our steel mills will start to work.

Our tire plants will start to work and people will start going back to work. And this shows that President Obama, if he could get more support from Republicans, his program is leading us in the right direction, and if we had more Republicans standing up for America rather than playing petty politics and doing stupid stuff with birthers and everything, we could stimulate this economy. We need an infrastructure bank, just like that.

Schultz: No question about it. Mr. Gerard, do you really think there will be a manufacturing ripple effect, that we might see some jobs created in manufacturing because we're starting to see some cars move off the lot in this country?

Gerard: Absolutely Ed. The fact of the matter is that those cars have to have, and I agree with Verge about buying domestically, those cars will have domestic steel in them, those cars will have domestic parts in them, but let me go one step further. I think we need to do the same thing with the investment banks for infrastructure. If we can do the same thing on domestic infrastructure and start to build our water treatment plants, start to rebuild all of our kind of sewers and pipelines.

Today driving into work I heard about the city of Pittsburg was shut down because the sewer lines busted. So we need that kind of stuff and to go along with the cash for clunkers, we ought to cash for clunkers for infrastructure and that will get people back to work. And I can tell you that our steel mills are going to start, our paper mills are going to start, our rubber plants are going to start and that's going to put people back to work. They'll get some money. They'll go buy something, and I think we ought to push the cash for clunkers and we ought to put more money in. In fact, I've got a good idea, let's take the thirty three billion dollars they gave in bonuses for the clowns that created the economic mess, and let's put that thirty three billion into a cash for clunkers program.

Schultz: Well, I think what we need to point out Leo is the fact that we have thrown billions of dollars at Wall Street. This is a morsal of what we saw to go Wall Street. To the American workers and the consumers that responded this ought to be a wake up call to every person who really supported Barack Obama through it all that he's got the right mix.

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