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Obama in Kokomo Makes Case for the Economy, Bipartisanship on Bush Tax Cuts

4 years ago
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Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden traveled to a Chrysler plant in Kokomo, Ind., on Tuesday to tout the resurrection of the American auto industry and make the case for their administration's handling of the economy.

Highlighting the resuscitation of the plant from near-death to full capacity, Obama suggested the factory was a model for the rest of the country, and asserted, "We are moving in the right direction."

But the president warned that progress on other important economic issues, including the Bush tax cuts, which are to expire at the end of this year, would not be possible unless Democrats and Republicans work together. Pointing to the 3,500 workers in Kokomo who might have otherwise lost their jobs without recovery act investments, Obama said, "This is a reminder of what we can do as Americans when we come together. When we're not divided. When we're not spending all our time bickering, but instead focusing on getting the job done. "

Obama said extending middle class tax cuts was "actually an area where Democrats and Republicans agree," but that the two parties are still apart on tax cuts for upper-income earners -- individuals making over $200,000 per year. An extension of top income cuts will add an estimated $700 billion to the federal deficit in the next 10 years, and "I don't think we can afford them right now," Obama said, adding he is "eager to sit down with leaders from both parties to hammer this out -- but we need to hammer it out."

For the president, the story of the U.S. auto industry has become a go-to when in need of evidence that he has taken the right steps to turn around the ailing American economy. While the effects of the recovery act have been met with mixed assessments, the federal government's decision to bail out GM and Chrysler has been widely hailed as a success. All three U.S car makers have posted solid sales this year; both GM and Chrysler are well on the road to paying off the loans made to them by U.S. taxpayers. Last week, the president held a special news conference to tout the initial public offering of GM stock -- one of the largest in U.S. history.

According to the White House, Obama last visited Kokomo in April 2008. Unemployment in the city was more than 20 percent in 2009, giving Kokomo one of the nation's highest unemployment rates. In the interim, the city received $400 million in direct recovery act funding for a range of programs and projects; by September of 2010, unemployment had decreased to 12 percent.

"It's a tough, tough thing when you're out of work," said Obama. "But what's happening here at this plant are signs of hope and confidence in the future -- in our future, together. You're showing us the way forward. You're living up to that spirit of optimism and determination and grit that's always been at the heart of who we are as a people -- at the heart of America."

Heralding an $800 million private industry investment in the plant, the president took the moment to champion American industry. It was, perhaps, Obama's version of an executive thanksgiving in a time of duress -- and a call for the nation to take pride in itself during a period of particularly low morale. "So here's a lesson," he said, "don't bet against America. Don't bet against the American auto industry. Don't bet against American ingenuity. Don't against the American worker. Don't bet against us."

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39 Comments

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polishparalt

Four simple words...."Ford, no government bailout." Their shareholders were not wiped out under government "assistance." They managed to not only not go bankrupt, but turn a profit....and somehow all without the help of big bailouts, government appointed "car czars" and the "we saved us from a depression" self appointed heroes of D.C. Remarkable...hey, holders of the old, pre-bailout and bankrupt GM and Chrysler stock, how's that hope and change working for you now? But don't worry, you can buy some more GM all over again, just like you never owned it at all before.....you just keep buying GM....Obama will keep laughing.

November 23 2010 at 8:34 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
CherCher

Obama is already irrelevant; he is just wasting his time. We are not listening to him anymore. We have already sent him a message on November 4. He should just go ahead and resign. I guess he doesn't want to give up two years of the free food, free parties and his own airline taking him where ever the hell he wants to go, and the kids fawning over him like he is a rock star.

November 23 2010 at 8:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
drdave415

So the bailout saved 3500 union jobs in one city, but what about the thousands of small dealerships across the country that were forced to close and the thousands of employees making half or less what union auto workers make that were laid off with no bail out? I guess they could not guarantee votes

November 23 2010 at 8:22 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to drdave415's comment
jensengirls3

drdave415 - Those dealerships did not close as a result of the gov assistance. They closed as a result of the trouble the automakers were already in. They crashed due to the economic disaster that GWB and repuke policy put us in.

November 23 2010 at 10:57 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Kenneth

Government needs to police their systems. All they talk about is cutting medicare and welfare and social security. They do not need to cut the programs if the actually spent the time cleaning up the fraud. What would any of you people say about a woman from a above average neighborhood ,driving a 2 year old 80,000 dollar Benz and wearing a 3000 full length fur coat coming into your grocery store to shop and they pay her bill with food stamps? The try to explain to me or anyone else the system has no fraud. When I had my garage the man in the building next to me was being sought by the FBI. He was being charged for receiving and cashing the social security checks for his father who died 5 years earlier. He was not poor or on government subsidies ha owned his own engine rebuilding company.

November 23 2010 at 8:15 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
Rockin Steve

Because Republicans will continue to be the Party of No everybody will lose their tax cuts.

November 23 2010 at 8:15 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
jmm8254

It is better than Obama only talks as the actions he and the Dems have pushed have done nothing but dig the hole deeper. Thank God his term's almost half over.

November 23 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jmm8254's comment
artharper2

Yes

November 23 2010 at 8:37 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Mrspamalot

Keep things the way they were when the economic crash came into effect that will really solve our problems.

November 23 2010 at 7:58 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
sue4nell

Ever noticed how those who have never run a small business are the first to call the owners wealthy? No concept what it takes, just hang back and complain that the owners are rich and they're "putting it to" the workers. Typical union mentality (or those who are always looking for a handout). Obama's old song just doesn't play anymore. And playing the race card and calling people hateful because they don't agree with him is getting VERY OLD!

November 23 2010 at 7:57 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sue4nell's comment
pdanl13

Outstanding post.

November 23 2010 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jwarney123

This is encouraging. Take it from and unemployed senior automotive product engineer canned from GM May 2009. If the CEO's during the NAFTA and GOBAL hoopla bandwagon had this spirit during the last 10-14 years we wouldn't be here today. We were sold out by corporate America. It's kinda like economic strategic planning and treason. President Obama just happen to be elected during an economic perfect storm. Heck, during the depression in the 1930's 100% of the products sold were American made. Not so Today, Today the economy loss is due to extreme unemployment fueled by the handing over of trade secrets, technology product development, manufacturing, and jobs being sent overseas. Rebound of job creation is handicapped. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. Especially companies that got tax benefits from relocating business overseas and at the same time CEO's receiving tax benefits from the Bush Tax during the last 10 years. Guess what I just won! :-) Finally! Faint hope of the job wave is starting to turn around for the American worker and their their families. Keep the momentum going. It's time for middle and low income American individuals to resurrect USA. I'm keeping my FAITH after losing my job, savings, home, family well being, and almost my mental and physical well being.

November 23 2010 at 7:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
DAVID SHANNON

Bipartisanship? In Obamaspeak that means "Do things my way." Where was the bipartisanship over the past two years? Wow. The arrogance of that man continues to amaze me.

November 23 2010 at 7:53 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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