WASHINGTON -- General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner said on Thursday that consumer demand was weakening and that aggressive tax cuts were needed to boost spending.
"Auto sales have actually hung in pretty well over the last couple of years despite, I think, an otherwise pretty weak economy," Wagoner told reporters after meeting with President George W. Bush at the White House.
"But we are definitely seeing a weakening in demand and it tracks very closely with consumer confidence," he said.
A group of CEOs came to the White House on Thursday to promote Bush's $726 billion tax cut package, which Wagoner said would help get "consumers ... back into the marketplace."
"Basically, industry does have excess capacity, not just autos, but many," Wagoner said. "And so to get out of this slow growth level ... we do need a strong consumer pull.
"We know this can work and we think right now is the time to put forth a very aggressive (tax cut) package and we think if that happens, that is going to greatly heighten the chance that the economy can back on a more rapid growth pace."
Earlier this month, Wagoner said General Motors saw no need to change its forecast for 2003 North American light vehicles sales as consumers seem surprisingly resilient, despite the war in Iraq.