To: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
From: Automotive News
We understand that questions for your second debate, on Oct. 9, will come from voters. We appreciate the opportunity to participate. Here are our questions:
- Auto fuel-efficiency standards are about to get more stringent. The industry has shown it can meet those standards, but there will be a cost. What price should we as a nation be willing to pay to achieve 54.5 mpg by 2025?
- Over the past decade, average U.S. gasoline prices have bounced between $1.60 a gallon and $4.10 a gallon. That has created huge shifts in the types of cars and trucks people buy and strained the auto industry's ability to react. As Congress seems unlikely to raise gasoline taxes to curb fuel use, what will you do to help diminish such swings?
- If the U.S. decides to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement or withdraw from it, explain how that will help U.S. automakers, the workers whose prosperity depends on healthy employers and the consumers who need affordable small cars. Also, how can it be done without jeopardizing the 2 million vehicles that U.S. auto factories export every year?
- In just a few years, the prospects for self-driving cars have become very real. But the advances in technology have come with forecasts of lost jobs, particularly among people who drive for a living. How do we create job opportunities out of the shift to autonomous driving and other forms of automation?
Please try to keep your answers rooted in the context of what's really happening in the industry.
Yes, U.S. auto workers and their communities have been ravaged by job losses, but that process began long before NAFTA. Labor and management and well-intended government policy all share some of the blame.
U.S. auto manufacturing, despite all its challenges, is thriving today, not only in Michigan and Ohio but also in places such as Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. As the Center for Automotive Research said in a 2015 report, decades of intense competition have led to better quality and better choices for American consumers.
It is one of the most important industries in the United States. It supports 7.25 million jobs and contributes more than $200 billion in tax revenue. Without the auto industry, the report said, it would be difficult to imagine manufacturing surviving in this country at all.
The industry is also complex. So, with all due respect, it deserves more than platitudes.
You have two minutes to respond. And then four years.