THE BIG DEAL–GM draws Washington’s anger with new layoffs

By Sylvan Lane

General Motors’s plans to slash 15,000 jobs and shutter up to four U.S. factories sparked a firestorm of criticism from Washington.

The company’s plans to massively restructure its business played well with investors, sending GM’s stock rising. But President Trump and lawmakers from both parties have blasted the company for moving to cut jobs nine years after a multibillion-dollar auto industry bailout.

The latest: Trump on Tuesday threatened to end GM’s federal tax credit for electric vehicles in retaliation for the company’s planned layoffs.

Trump tweeted that he is “very disappointed” with the company’s plans to close up to five manufacturing plants and lay off about 15 percent of its workforce.

“The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get!” Trump tweeted. “I am here to protect America’s Workers!”

GM’s share price fell following Trump’s tweet, reaching as low as 3.8 percent below Monday’s close.

GM’s response: The auto giant responded Tuesday saying said it appreciates “the actions this administration has taken on behalf of industry to improve the overall competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing” and that “many of the U.S. workers impacted” by Monday’s layoff announcement “will have the opportunity to shift to other GM plants.”

But that’s not likely to be enough to stop the bipartisan wave of anger headed toward GM.

The Hill’s Timothy Cama tells us what’s at stake for the company here.

 What comes next: Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, on Tuesday also mentioned potentially targeting the electric vehicle credit.

“We are going to be looking at certain subsidies regarding electric cars and others, whether they should apply or not. I can’t say anything final about that, but we’re looking into it,” Kudlow told reporters in a White House briefing before Trump’s tweet.

“Again, that reflects the president’s own disappointment regarding these actions,” he said of the plant closings.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that Trump didn’t have a specific timeline for eliminating the tax break.

 What it means: The federal government provides a $7,500 tax break to U.S. consumers who buy electric vehicles. GM was less than 4,000 vehicles away from hitting the point at which federal tax credits start to phase out for the break, which starts when a manufacturer sells 200,000 electric cars.

Further reading: White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday defended Trump after GM’s announcement, praising the president’s overall economic record while absolving him of responsibility for the company’s planned layoffs

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