NEW YORK -- On topics from President Donald Trump to hybrid cars, Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation Inc., was his usual outspoken self Tuesday at the NADA/J.D. Power Automotive Forum here.
Jackson mentioned in passing that he voted for Hillary Clinton, and he said Trump’s first few months in office have not changed Jackson’s view that the president has a “temperament” problem. “He’s 70 one minute and a petulant 7-year-old the next.”
However, Jackson praised Trump for appointing “professional de-regulators” who could reduce the regulatory burden on the U.S. auto industry, and he said Trump correctly diagnosed why the U.S. economy isn’t growing faster.
“I give him high marks for his assessment that America is about economic vitality, economic growth,” he said. Cutting regulation breaks “shackles” that were handicapping the economy, Jackson said.
He said Trump has his work cut out for him to make good on campaign promises to repeal Obamacare, enact tax reform and boost spending on infrastructure, all in his first year in office.
“I think his legislative agenda is in trouble. Under Obama, Congress voted 90 times to repeal [the Affordable Care Act]. Now that they have a president who would sign it, they can’t get it passed. Are you kidding me?” Jackson said.
On another regulatory topic, Jackson said regulations that mandate high fuel efficiency don’t take into account that customers don’t want to pay the necessary price for developing new technology.
“At 55 mpg, the added cost per vehicle is astronomical -- so expensive, people won’t buy them. So they keep their older cars -- they’re already 11½ years old on average -- so what you get is, you put out more pollution and use more fuel because you left extreme regulation in place.”
AutoNation, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ranks No. 1 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with new-vehicle retail sales of 337,622 in 2016.