Meet the Press   |  July 21, 2013

Detroit the 'poster child' for deindustrialization in America

A Meet the Press roundtable looks at statistics fueling the city of Detroit's economy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> the role of federal government is an obvious question because the federal government has intervened when the auto companies needed a big bailout. you go back to the 1970s and that famous headline in the "new york daily news" when new york

was in trouble, "ford to city: drop dead." here are some of the facts about the auto bailout and about the current debt detroit has. you had 80 plus billion dollars that flowed to the auto companies when they needed help. now you've got a total debt in detroit of $18 billion. is there not some money that should be available even from that initial bailout to the auto companies to help the city?

>> i'm not going to speak to the federal government . what i want to speak to is a solution, an idea of being a partner in solving problems. tangible things we're doing. this isn't about just writing checks. this is about improving detroit . one thing i'm proud of, we're partnering with the federal government , the city and the state working together is blight removal. we're going to be starting to implement $100 million program to remove some of those 78,000 blighted structures in detroit hopefully within the next 30 days . that's one of the positive steps. so we don't need to wait for all of bankruptcy to end. we're moving now to improving detroit and getting better services for those great people.

>> governor, we'll be watching. thank you very much for your time here with us today. as i'm going to make my way over to our roundtable, we will hear from, among others, the former governor of michigan , democrat jennifer granholm . i want to consider and try to understand the way politicians speak about detroit . how they've always done it. consider this. from president obama from october of last year.

>> we refuse to throw in the towel and do nothing. we refuse to let detroit go bankrupt. i bet on american workers and american ingenuity and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way.

>> and good morning to all of you. governor granholm , when the president speaks about detroit , he doesn't mean the city of detroit .

>> right.

>> he means the auto companies. they got better. detroit did not.

>> right. and that's a really important distinction because people are assuming that when he said we're not going to let detroit go bankrupt, that he meant detroit , the city. it's two different entities. but the city of detroit is the poster child for the deindustrialization of america, david. since 1950 , which was the heyday of detroit 's burgeoning auto industry , there were three -- almost 300,000 automotive or manufacturing jobs in the city. 300,000. today, it's 27,000. that's a 90% decline in good-paying manufacturing jobs. so the real question is, not just about tearing down blight. it's what are we going to do as a nation to create good-paying, middle-class jobs in a country that has a policy of being completely hands off with the economy. we have to have a manufacturing policy, an advanced manufacturing policy, and give the ability for states to develop clusters that will help them compete.

>> some of the criticism, governor, from conservatives who say, look, you've had 50 years of democratic rule in the city of detroit . you've had unions, not only in detroit , but in other cities who are pursuing pensions and retirement policies that are completely unsustainable. and that there has been some level of denial. even you, in 2009 , "time" magazine interviewed you. and the question was, will detroit ever really recover in your honest opinion? you said absolutely. we have great bones in the city and as a state, we have more engineers in this region than in all the other states plus canada and mexico combined. we're in a tough period because we have an auto crisis and a financial crisis so we're hit harder than any other state in the country. today you're saying it's much bigger than the financial crisis that happened in this country.

>> it is bigger. my whole point is that detroit does have great bones, but what we need is a strategy nationally, like other countries have, to keep and create good-paying, middle-class jobs here. and we need a congress that would support that strategy. let me just quickly say, david, you talked about the pensions. cities across the couldnntry have $2 million of unfended pensions. this is not just detroit . there are 50,000 communities across the country that have lost factories since the year 2000 . this is not a democratic problem. this is a problem across the country.

>> chuck todd , who let detroit down? which politicians let them down?

>> i think there was poor governance in detroit for a very long time. this turned into a machine political town, if you followed that. in my 25 years of following politics, you know, it was a city -- and i remember the first reform movement of detroit , when dennis archer got elected mayor , sort of when they replaced in the coal man young era, it was that first attempt. and there was a lot of cities that did that. you saw here in washington, d.c., and you saw these attempts. you know, one mayor couldn't change things because you had 30 years of cronyism. it was a machine.

>> but if i told you -- i'm sorry, if i told you that a city on the border of america's largest trading partner couldn't figure out how to diversify its economy, you have to sit there and say it was not just poor city government , poor business leadership, poor governance -- it is sort of remarkable that detroit , where it's located, it ended up in this position.

>> you know, the bigger issue here because this detroit -- and what the governor has mentioned, and other communities and other urban cities is the result also of public policies at the national level when it comes to trade, when it comes to the fair investment and manufacturing to watch all of our jobs go abroad and not have a response. the second thing that grates many, many people is that we could bail out the automobile companies at a very hefty price. we could bail out the banks at a very hefty price. but when it comes to urban communities, where the poor are, when it comes to the deteriorating construction of urban communities, we have excuses. we have an effort to simply say, well, the problems are in city hall . get your government straight, and then we'll help you. what i hope this means is that there's going to be a renewed interest in american urban communities. and for the national government to recognize we need a concerted effort if we're going to compete with china and india to bring back good-paying jobs.