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Former Obama aide lashes out at Biden for ‘bowing to progressives,’ joining autoworkers picket line

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Former Obama aide Steve Rattner told NBC News in an interview that President Biden “bowed” to progressives by joining the autoworkers in their picket line and said the decision was “outrageous.”

“For him to be going on a picket line is outrageous,” Rattner said, according to the outlet. “There’s no precedent for it. The tradition of the president is to stay neutral in these things. I get the politics. The progressives all said, ‘We don’t want a mediator; we want an advocate.’” 

“And he bowed to the progressives, and now he’s going out there to put his thumb on the scale. And it’s wrong,” Rattner, who headed former President Obama’s auto industry task force, told NBC.

Biden joined the striking autoworkers in Michigan and told them they deserved a “significant raise.” 

Steve Rattner

Steven Rattner, the former head of Obama’s Auto Task Force, criticized President Joe Biden’s decision to join the autoworkers picket line. (Takaaki Iwabu/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

DONALD TRUMP CALLS ON AUTO WORKERS UNION TO MAKE ENDING EV MANDATES PRIORITY IN HIGH-STAKES NEGOTIATIONS

Rattner also said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that while it was “good politics” for the president to join the autoworkers, there were “merits on both sides” of the argument. 

Biden “should not be putting his thumb on the scale in such dramatic fashion,” he added. 

Rattner wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times that he was concerned about a prolonged autoworkers strike affecting the president’s re-election chances. 

He argued that the UAW was overplaying its hand.

President Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden joins striking members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) on the picket line outside the GM’s Willow Run Distribution Center, in Belleville, Wayne County, Michigan, U.S., September 26, 2023. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

UAW STRIKE HAS ALREADY COST THE US ECONOMY $1.6B

“But this increasingly militant U.A.W. is overplaying its hand with an overly lengthy and overly ambitious list of demands. I don’t think there’s any way the automakers will be able to meet these conditions, and I worry about the implications for our economy and for President Biden,” Rattner wrote last week.

Rattner added that a prolonged strike would hurt the economy and, in turn, Biden’s re-election chances.

“Our nearly $800 billion auto industry accounts for three percent of economic output, with a particular concentration in the Midwest, where states like Michigan are critical to President Biden’s re-election,” he wrote. 

Striking United Auto Workers members

Striking United Auto Workers members picket outside the Stellantis Jeep plant, in Toledo, Ohio, on Sept. 19, 2023. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

The president also told those striking that workers had made a lot of sacrifices and deserve to be doing “incredibly well.”

“The fact of the matter is that you guys, the UAW, you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 … you made a lot of sacrifices,” Biden said at the strike. “You gave up a lot. And the companies were in trouble. But now they’re doing incredibly well and guess what? You should be doing incredibly well, too.”

The White House did not return a request for comment.

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