Ohio senator wants to give car shoppers $3,500 to buy American-made cars

August 15, 2018

A bill proposed this week in the U.S. Senate aims to give car buyers $3,500 to buy American-made cars, including models from Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, and others, the latest thrust in escalating threats between lawmakers and the auto industry.

Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown proposed the legislation this week and said the measure was meant to protect jobs in America. 

“There are two simple parts: customers who buy cars made in America get a discount and corporations that send jobs overseas lose a special tax break,” Brown said in a statement. 

The temporary program, which would offer a one-time $3,500 subsidy to each person for a new car purchase or five-year lease, would be funded up to $3 billion by revoking a tax break for automakers on profits made overseas. Some automakers may be taxed at a lower rate on profits made overseas after a GOP tax overhaul passed earlier this year.

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For cars to qualify under the plan, at least 45 percent of its parts would need to be sourced from the U.S. or Canada—but not Mexico—and assembled in the U.S. Brown's office offered a list of more than 100 vehicles that would qualify for the program, including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Tesla Model 3 along with the Jeep Wrangler and Ford F-150.

The bill piggybacks on Brown's criticism that GM is laying off workers in Ohio and moving production to Mexico. When the Chevrolet Blazer was announced in June, Brown blasted the automaker for building the SUV in Mexico.

“On the same day GM is laying off workers in Youngstown, the company is bypassing American workers and sending more jobs to Mexico. GM should reverse this irresponsible decision, and use its tax windfall to invest in American workers.”

Brown is running for re-election in November and his proposal has been supported by local unions.

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