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Obama in Ohio Touts U.S. Job Growth, Slams Stimulus Critics

5 years ago
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At a healthy clip of 460 miles per hour and at an altitude of roughly 22,000 feet, President Obama bypassed the primary melee in Pennsylvania -- where five-term Sen. Arlen Specter was fighting for his political life against Congressman Joe Sestak -- and instead took Tuesday to focus on jobs creation and economic recovery.
Speaking at the V&M Star tubing plant in Youngstown, Ohio, the president focused on a $650-million private investment to construct a new steel mill at the plant's existing facility, saying it would have not have been possible without a $20-million infrastructure investment made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It is estimated that the planned expansion at the plant will create 350 new full-time jobs.
Pointing to a gain last month of 290,000 jobs as the largest jobs increase in four years, Obama said
the steps his administration had taken to stabilize the economy -- including supporting tax cuts for working families and loans to small business -- were "the right thing to do."

The president struck a provocatively partisan tone at times in his speech. Referring to conservative critics of the last year's stimulus approach, Obama lashed out as "folks who opposed us every step of the way, predicting and even rooting for failure." He dared those who didn't support the stimulus bill to "come here and tell us why companies like this in towns like Youngstown shouldn't be given every chance to expand and add jobs."
This line of argumentation is part of a larger conversation that the White House has not been winning. The Democrats' contention, uttered many times including by the president Tuesday, is that the stimulus package prevented another Great Depression. The Republican view is that it was an ill-considered approach that ran the federal budget deficit to unheard-of levels while doing little, if anything, to address the 10-percent unemployment afflicting the United States. So far, the voters seem to be siding with the GOP: In a poll last month by the Pew Research Center, only 33 percent of respondents said they believed the stimulus legislation had helped ease unemployment, while 62 percent said it hadn't. This is the perception the president went to Ohio to attempt to counter.
Obama also took a decidedly populist tone at the end of his speech, saying he had "a funny name" and little money of his own when he first entered politics, and that he succeeded in politics because "someone invested in me." It was this same kind of investment in the future, he told the audience, that the United States needs to make in its own citizens and industries.

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