Trump’s budget would cut Lordstown loan program

The GM Lordstown Plant assembled the Chevy Cruz before being shut down.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images).

The effort to transform the Lordstown Assembly plant into a new home for electric vehicle production is seen by many as helping to revitalize an entire region. 

To the Trump administration, that effort is “costly” and “wasteful” for the federal government to meddle with.

President Trump released a budget proposal on Monday for Fiscal Year 2021, dubbed “A Budget for America’s Future.” The budget suggests eliminating a $200 million investment to the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program — the program meant to allow Lordstown Motors to reshape the old General Motors plant and turn it into an assembly line for electric vehicles. 

Ohio’s political leaders have championed the new company, which is expected to bring back hundreds of jobs lost by GM’s decision to close Lordstown Assembly in early 2019. The new EV production line will accompany a high-scale joint venture between GM and a South Korean company to build EV batteries in the Lordstown area. 

Now, those same leaders are joining together to keep the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program alive.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, represents Northeast Ohio and is among those calling for the funding to stay put. 

“(I)nstead of using the power of the White House to help Lordstown Motors get up and running, President Trump announced his intention on Monday to kill the very loan program that Lordstown Motors has said is critical to their business,” Ryan said in a statement. “This isn’t a hand-out, this is a loan that will be repaid in-full with interest.”

In January, a bipartisan group of legislators (including U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman) signed a letter expressing strong support for the loan program. 

The Trump administration was apparently unmoved.

“The Budget further protects taxpayers by eliminating costly, wasteful, or duplicative programs,” a section of the proposal reads. “The private sector has the primary role in taking risks to finance the deployment of commercially viable projects and Government’s best use of taxpayer funding is in earlier stage (research and development).”