Sutton, Lobbying Groups Attack Japanese Auto Subsidy

Posted January 6, 2010 at 4:06pm

Domestic automakers are getting a boost from Capitol Hill this week, as Rust Belt Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) joined the business community and unions in pressuring White House officials to settle a trade beef with Japan.Sutton on Tuesday introduced a resolution “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding unfair and discriminatory practices of the government of Japan— for its automobile subsidy, a program similar to last year’s $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program in the United States.“Access to Japan’s market has long been a problem for U.S. automakers,— Sutton said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters. “It’s unacceptable.—Sutton also told reporters that she has not yet discussed the legislation’s prospects with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) or other Democratic House leaders.Under a proposed extension of the Japanese program, only cars made by the world’s second-largest economy would continue to be eligible for the government subsidy. Last year, lawmakers stripped out “Buy American— provisions sought by Sutton and other Members from heavy manufacturing regions.Sutton’s Akron-area district includes a Ford Motor Co. plant, as well as facilities for tire producers Goodyear and Firestone. The U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Automotive Policy Council and the United Auto Workers also are lobbying U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to investigate Japan’s program, which expires March 31.“U.S.-made automobiles should not be subject to discrimination under the Japanese automotive fleet renewal program,— states a Tuesday chamber letter to Kirk. “The vehicles exported from the United States for sale in Japan meet our country’s rigorous emissions and fuel economy requirements, and we believe they will also meet comparable Japanese standards.—