The Washington Times - July 17, 2008, 11:43PM

John McCain is visiting another Detroit auto plant today. This time he’s at the GM plant in Warren where the Big 3 automaker is making plans to produce the Volt, a battery-powered vehicle that can drive up to 40 miles. That’s not a long distance, but it’s a start and GM plans to roll it out in 2010.

McCain is interested in green auto technology. He has offered a $300 million incentive to the big mind who can develop a long-distance car battery. Like many folks, including those who drive SUVs, he knows fuel efficiency is key along with decreasing dependence on foreign oil.

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Michigan needs new auto blood and producing an “electric” car would certainly add bounce to an industry that is in trouble. I not a Michigan native, but it is with sadness that I view not only domestic car lots that sit like boneyards and huge factories that are skeletons and idle around the state. In communities like Flint as well as Lansing, the energy is down not only because of auto industry job cuts, but also  because of a sobering awareness that these are jobs that won’t likely be coming back. The auto jobs that may return will require a skilled labor force with a solid understanding of technology. Gone are the days of the line workers who screw on a bolt.

 

But it is also sad to see the impact on families, in some cases generations, who have proudly constructed Ford, Chrysler and other U.S. brands, and who are now struggling financially and making hard decisions about whether to leave for areas that are prospering.

 

McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama are right to invest time in Michigan and listen to worker concerns. As much as it is easy to blame the U.S. auto industry for its own woes — and there have been failures, including union issues — the candidate who wins Michigan will offer ideas and an openness to innovation. He’ll also have a heart for people who put their own heart into something that moved the nation for a very long time, the worker. 

 

— Andrea Billups, The Washington Times