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May 052013

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama will kick off a series of Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tours with a trip Thursday to Austin, Texas, a White House spokesman announced Sunday.

“In his State of the Union, the president laid out his belief that the middle class is the engine of economic growth. To reignite that engine, there are three areas we need to invest in: 1) jobs, 2) skills 3) opportunity,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

“Even though some in Congress are determined to create more self-inflicted economic wounds, there are things Washington could be doing right now to help American businesses, schools and workers,” he said. “We need to build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years, and that means investing in things that are already creating good-paying, stable jobs that can support a middle class family.”

In Austin, the president plans to visit Manor New Tech High School, meet with technology entrepreneurs, visit a tech company, and meet with middle class workers, according to the White House.

“He will visit these places to learn what has helped them become successful and use these models of growth to encourage Congress to act,” Earnest said.

“Things are getting better, but our economic recovery is not as strong as it could be and far too many middle class families are still struggling. The question is, will Congress will join with the president to make sure the middle class is strong and secure,” Earnest said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Feb 132013

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Wednesday kicks off a three-day post-State of the Union tour to promote ‘made in America’ with a visit to a Canadian auto parts manufacturer in North Carolina.

The Linamar Corp. facility in Asheville illustrates the positive economic trends that Obama claimed credit for in his address Tuesday night and wants to encourage in a second term: more American and foreign companies moving manufacturing operations to the U.S. (“insourcing”); steady growth of skilled private-sector jobs; and effectiveness of government-sponsored hiring incentives.

In 2011, the company first set up shop in Asheville, lured by state grants and a pool of workers with technical skills to do the job.  It employs about 360 workers now with plans to hire 250 more and make a $75 million capital investment over the next five years.

“Training grants, tax credits, a fair business tax rate — those things really work,” Linamar President and COO Jim Jarrell told ABC News.  “We moved to North Carolina to take advantage of the incentives, knowing, however, that eventually we’d have to stand on our own two feet.”

But Linamar is also a bellwether for an economic recovery that continues to limp along, with little future “stimulus” in sight.

The company’s North Carolina facility, which makes key engine, transmission and driveline components for industrial machinery, feeds Caterpillar and Volvo.  Demand from those companies only follows demand from builders and construction firms, Jarrell said.  That demand continues to be “a little slower than anticipated out of the gate.”

The latest Congressional Budget Office projections, released last week, underscore the concern:

  • Unemployment is expected to hover around 8 percent through the next year, which would be the sixth consecutive year with unemployment above 7.5 percent of the labor force — the longest such period in 70 years.
  • Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is projected to “remain below its potential” through the end of Obama’s second term, in 2017.  “That subdued economic growth will limit businesses’ need to hire additional workers, thereby causing the unemployment rate to stay near 8 percent this year,” the CBO projects.

Obama said on Tuesday that policy makers must “reignite” the engine of job growth to boost the middle class as a top priority.

He will highlight his plan for that, including a call for universal access to pre-school education, during a stop in Atlanta on Thursday.  He then visits Chicago on Friday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Feb 102013

Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In contrast to his inaugural address, President Obama’s State of the Union speech will focus primarily on jobs and the economy, outlining new initiatives on manufacturing, education, clean energy and infrastructure.

He will elaborate on the big themes of the inaugural — immigration, gun violence and climate change — but a top White House official said the State of the Union will have a “heavy economic focus,” specifically on “the middle class as the driver of economic growth.”

To drive home the point that the president sees jobs and the economy as his number one priority, the president’s travel after the speech will be used to promote his new economic initiatives.

The new initiatives will entail new federal spending, but the spending will be off-set by reductions elsewhere in the federal budget. In terms of cost, these initiatives will be relatively modest:  the days of big economic stimulus programs are over.

The president will use his speech to warn Congress to avoid automatic spending cuts — the dreaded “sequester” — scheduled to go into effect on March 1.  The across-the-board cuts, the president will warn, would jeopardize the economic recovery and endanger national security.

But the president will also make what the official called “a progressive case for deficit reduction” — warning that if entitlement spending is not brought under control it will crowd out spending on other social programs that progressives hold dear.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Oct 232012

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(DAYTON, Ohio) – With debate season in the rearview mirror, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden united Tuesday in western Ohio, casting themselves as the only true champions of the state’s resurgent auto industry in an effort to bolster their working-class vote.

The Democratic ticket triumphantly asserted that voters there understand better than any what the Obama-backed 2009 auto bailout meant for Ohio jobs. And they argued that no matter what Republican nominee Mitt Romney now says, his past opposition to the bailout is widely known.

“I hope I made clear that there’s a big difference between me and Mitt Romney. And it’s not just that he’s got better hair,” Obama joked about Monday night’s final presidential debate.

“Governor Romney looked you right in the eye, looked me in the eye, tried to pretend that he never said, ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt.’ Tried to pretend he meant the same thing I did when we intervened and worked to make sure that management and workers got together to save the U.S. auto industry, pretended like somehow I have taken his advice,” Obama said.

“The people don’t forget. The people of Dayton don’t forget. The people of Ohio don’t forget,” he said.

In 2008, Romney wrote an op-ed in the New York Times opposing a taxpayer-funded bailout of GM and Chrysler, calling instead for a “managed bankruptcy,” which ultimately occurred. The article’s title, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” was written by the paper, not Romney.

“Barack Obama’s attack has been deemed false by multiple independent fact checkers and is clearly designed to hide his failed record and lack of an agenda for a second term. Mitt Romney proposed the right course for the automakers, a structured bankruptcy process to allow them to keep jobs in Ohio and emerge as sustainable and profitable enterprises,” said Romney spokesman Chris Maloney.

Democrats contend the process could not have proceeded successfully without the backing of the federal government to assure investors.

“Without government support, those companies would have fallen,” said senior Obama advisor David Plouffe. “I think Gov. Romney was having one of his bouts of ‘Romnesia’ he has. If he was president of the U.S. the American auto industry would have been decimated.”

The auto industry supports one in eight Ohio jobs, according to the Labor Department.

Obama has visited Ohio 17 times this year — more than any other state. Vice President Biden has swung through the state nine times, often focusing on the auto manufacturing theme.

Biden Tuesday accused Romney of trying to “rewrite history” on the auto industry rescue in claiming that a managed bankruptcy was his idea all along.

“Half the time, I didn’t know whether Governor Romney was there to debate Barack Obama or endorse Barack Obama,” he said mockingly. “You know, I mean, it was hard to tell! But I have a message for the good governor. Governor, you can’t run from the truth.”

Polls show the Obama-Biden ticket holds a slight lead over Romney-Ryan in the 2012 presidential race in Ohio, but the margin has tightened in recent weeks. No candidate for president since 1960 has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sep 072012

Alex Wong/Getty Images(SPARKS, Nev.) — Traditionally the No. 2 on a presidential ticket is the attack dog, and Paul Ryan in recent days has been going after the president pretty hard. But Friday the GOP vice presidential candidate lodged his attack beginning with a compliment.

“You know the president gave a big speech last night, well just hear me out. President Obama is not a bad guy,” Ryan said over cheers of “yes he is” from the crowd. “No, President Obama is not a bad guy. He’s good at giving great speeches, he’s just really bad at creating jobs.”

Ryan then continued his attack: “Here’s the problem, when you think that the road to success and prosperity is more borrowing, more spending, more taxing, more regulating, a government-centered society with a government-run economy, these are the kinds of results we will get and if we want the next four years to be any different than the last four years, we need a new president.”

It’s a line of attack Mitt Romney has also been using because of the president’s favorability ratings. The message the GOP ticket wants to get across is that the president is nice, but not competent, and to stay away from some of the more personal attacks they are afraid may backfire with the personally popular president. Obama has higher favorability ratings than Romney, but in an ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week the president’s number is seven points lower from his recent peak in April. Just 47 percent of registered voters see Obama favorably overall, while 49 percent rate him unfavorably. Forty percent of registered voters see Romney favorably, while 47 percent view the GOP presidential nominee unfavorably.

“The president can give lots of speeches. He can say a lot of beautiful things. But he can’t tell you that we are better off,” Ryan said in the parking lot of a Peterbilt truck parts and equipment company.

With the backdrop of the rugged Nevada desert, Ryan also mentioned the tepid job numbers released Friday morning.The report, worse than expected, showed that the economy created 96,000 jobs in August, below economist expectations of 125,000. The unemployment rate was down 8.1 percent, but it showed nearly 400,000 people had stopped looking.

The House budget chairman called the report “disappointing news.”

“We learned today that for every person that got a job, nearly four people stopped looking for a job,” Ryan said to a crowd of about 1,400. “They gave up. We can’t keep doing this. Our economy needs to create just 150,000 jobs every month just to keep up with the growth of our population. Friends, this is not an economic recovery, this is nowhere close to an economic recovery.”

Ryan tailored his remarks to this battleground state, telling voters they have a “special responsibility” and that the rest of the country is “depending” on Nevadans.

Ryan also mentioned the home foreclosure crisis that has rocked Nevada, as well as the Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who hails from this state.

“The president gave us this big stimulus package right when he got elected,” Ryan said. “He said when we pass the stimulus, unemployment will never get above eight percent. We just learned today that it’s been over eight percent for over 43 months. In Nevada, its 12 percent. Look at the foreclosure rate. Look at the unemployment rate.”

He then hit the United State Senate for not passing a budget, name-checking the state’s senator.

“Hey, you guys heard of this guy named Reid in the Senate?” Ryan asked sarcastically to boos. “So I take it as a yes. They haven’t bothered to pass a budget in three years. They have a law that says every year, April 15 — April 15th is tax day for Americans, it’s budget day for Congress.  They’ve ignored it for three years.  Friends, this is not, this is not governing. This is kicking the can.”

From Nevada, Ryan heads to California to begin a few days of fundraising on the West coast.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio