In a pair of Wednesday tweets, the president pointed to the 25% levies that are placed on pickup-truck imports into the US, and said this "chicken tax" was the reason why the USA small truck business is doing well.
While the decision to close the plants appears more related to the industry trends and consumer demand, experts told Business Insider that Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum - which GM says have helped drive up its costs by $1 billion this year - most likely accelerated GM's timeframe.
Rep. Tim Ryan and Rep. Marcy Kaptur are expected to urge GM to reverse course and ask President Donald Trump to act.
Barra's bright outlook managed to lift investors' confidence in spite of the layoff plan, pushing GM stock up seven percent on Monday. In October, nearly 65 percent of new vehicles sold in the US were trucks or SUVs.
Buyers of electric vehicles made by GM and other automakers get federal tax credits of up to $7,500, helping reduce the price as an incentive to get more of the zero-emissions vehicles on the road. GM's actions would be the biggest restructuring for the carmaker since its bankruptcy a decade ago when they were bailed out by the government.
Trump's policies weren't the main reason for GM's move, but they probably helped push the automaker toward the decision.
"We are going to be looking at certain subsidies regarding electric cars and others and whether they should apply or not", Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters Tuesday, just before Trump's Twitter postings.
"Get smart Congress. Also, the countries that send us cars have taken advantage of the USA for decades", Trump wrote.
GM has been lobbying Congress, along with Tesla Inc, to lift the current cap on electric vehicles eligible for tax credits, but any action by Congress before 2019 is a long shot, congressional aides said.
Numerous USA workers impacted by these actions will have the opportunity to shift to other GM plants where we will need more employees to support growth in trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. Trump believes that foreign countries dump low-priced items in the USA and make it hard for U.S. manufacturers to compete, a trend that he says has destroyed millions of jobs.
Trump said the U.S. could use a measure similar to its 25% tariff on light trucks, known as the "chicken tax," to prevent factory closings similar to General Motors' recent announcement. Workers also will be added at an SUV factory in Arlington, Texas.
But this time it feels more ominous for even longtime workers who have been through shutdown threats and job cuts, because now the entire industry is changing.
However, the automaker has received more than $50 billion dollars in federal, state and local loans and grants since 2000, which includes funding it received for bailout assistance, according to a subsidy tracker. The United States slapped an additional 25 percent tariff on Chinese-made vehicles earlier this year, prompting China to retaliate.
GM's attempt to close the factories still has to be negotiated with the United Auto Workers union, which has promised to fight back. The automakers are particularly concerned because all cars built at United States auto plants have a significant amount of foreign parts in them.