This is a letter I sent to President Barack Obama on Jan. 30.
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for taking on the tremendous responsibility of being our nations leader in this very challenging time. I also thank all of the men and women on your leadership team for joining you to lead our great country.
The day you were elected was one of the proudest days I have had as an American. Please accept my apologies for not voting for you. (I was very proud of how John McCain had served our country.)
Our nation needs a jump-start. Our factories, our financial system and our service sector are all grinding to a standstill. Americans have stopped spending money because we are afraid and, in many cases, because we think we are going to lose our jobs. Today, it is almost socially unacceptable to make a major purchase. We have stopped spending because we think it is the prudent thing to do - - but it is driving our economic strength to a screeching halt.
For almost 30 years, I have been an automotive dealer in the small northeastern Wisconsin community of Neenah. This community is where Kleenex and Huggies started and manhole covers stamped Neenah Foundry are manufactured. I have always worked six days a week and love my job. I work side by side with 1,200 teammates selling and servicing 23 brands of vehicles. On the surface, this letter might seem self-focused, but I promise that isnt the case. I love our country, and it hurts so much to have it foundering.
We are a nation on wheels. Almost everyone needs a car every day to go to work, to school or to get to wherever he needs to go. The jobs created and supported directly by the automotive industry are documented as being in the millions. Our automotive industry is on Stop right now. As mentioned above, Americans stopped buying because we thought it was the right thing to do, but the effects are permeating every area of our economy.
Whats the solution? Lets put all new cars on sale! If the government, the manufacturers, the financial institutions and the dealers all work together, we could give our economy a huge positive jolt. If for 90 days, Feb. 15 through May 15, everyone who purchased a new vehicle in America (no matter where it was built) would be given a government voucher for $5,000; and the manufacturer would match it with another $5,000 voucher; and the dealer would agree to sell the vehicle at invoice pricing; and the financial institutions would finance creditworthy buyers with loans of 72 months at 5 percent - - together we could get this industry rolling again in a hurry. We could eliminate the stranglehold inventories of new vehicles piled up across the country, and we would generate new vehicle orders that would bring the people in manufacturing plants and parts plants back to work almost immediately. It is a very simple message: The president of the United States, the automotive manufacturers, the banks, the auto workers and the dealers are endorsing the sale of a lifetime on a new vehicle to help get America back on track.
Mr. President, if you would endorse this program and if Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner and your economic director Larry Summers leaned on the Treasury and the financial institutions for the financing, I personally would take on the responsibility of getting the manufacturers and the dealers to do their part.
My brother, Dick, and I, along with our automotive teammates at Bergstrom Corp., respectfully ask you to consider this suggestion.
Mr. President, thank you again for taking on the huge responsibility of being our leader.