Steven Rattner, who once served as the Obama administration’s “car czar,” slammed President Joe Biden for joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) picket line.
NBC News reported the criticism on Tuesday just as Biden arrived in Michigan to stand with protesters who are striking against “Big Three” automakers Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis in an effort to secure higher wages, improved benefits, and more.
“For him to be going on a picket line is outrageous,” Rattner told the news outlet.
“There’s no precedent for it,” he added. “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, a Wall Street financier, led former President Barack Obama’s auto industry task force and oversaw the federal auto industry bailout of 2009.
He wrote a guest essay published last week by The New York Times that expressed support for auto workers getting paid more but warned that the “increasingly militant U.A.W. is overplaying its hand with an overly lengthy and overly ambitious list of demands.”
Rattner also said he was worried about the “implications” the UAW strike could have on the economy and Biden.
“A prolonged strike, which could lead to far more widespread shutdowns of auto facilities, could jeopardize the economic recovery,” Rattner said. “Our nearly $800 billion auto industry accounts for 3 percent of economic output, with a particular concentration in the Midwest, where states like Michigan are critical to President Biden’s re-election.”
Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, visited the picket line just one day before former President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a speech to striking auto workers in Detroit instead of attending the second GOP primary debate.
“The President joins the picket line in solidarity with the men and women of the United Auto Workers union as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create,” said the White House, according to a press pool report.