Obama touts manufacturing at Milwaukee plant

(WEAU) - “Quite frankly if he wants to get re-elected in 2012, he needs to win here again,” says Political Analyst John Frank.

Political analyst John Frank says Wisconsin has often been considered a swing state in past presidential elections.

But Frank believes that's not his only motivation for appearing in Milwaukee today.

The president addressed what good can come of unions and employers working together.

"Today your selling products directly to customers in China stamped with those words, ‘Made in America,’” said President Barack Obama.

Frank says the number one issue in America since 2009 has been jobs, jobs and jobs.

“There are many kinds of unemployment, what you see the president finally addressing now is structural unemployment, which is a disconnect between the skills employer's need and the skills workers have,” says Frank.

As the country slowly recovers from recession, the president mentioned his plan for a payroll tax cut that will prevent a tax increase to 160 million working Americans.

This tax cut means that the typical American family will see an extra forty dollars in every paycheck this year.

Overall the visit seemed to have supporters cheering but Frank says the main focus should be on improving worker skills.

“The bottom line is, when it comes to jobs you can’t run a 21st century company with workers who have 20th century skills,” said Frank.

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- President Barack Obama called Wednesday for tax cuts for American manufacturers and higher taxes for companies that move overseas, pressing what he hopes will be a winning campaign issue.

Appearing at a Milwaukee padlock plant, Obama said the U.S. must do everything it can to make it more attractive for American businesses to stay put and grow here home, "and the place to start is our tax code."

The president visited Master Lock, a manufacturer that has brought jobs back to the United States. Reprising ideas from his State of the Union address, he asked Congress to approve tax system changes right away, including a minimum tax on multinational companies, so that American firms can't skirt taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. He also pushed for tax breaks for businesses that move into communities that have been hurt by factories leaving town.

"Don't wait. Do it now. Get it done," Obama shouted, his jacket removed and shirtsleeves rolled up, as he stood in front of a pile of stacked orange metal boxes, including one stamped "Made in the USA."

Obama, who is en route to a three-day West Coast fundraising swing, said he decided to visit Master Lock "because this company has been making the most of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring jobs and manufacturing back to America." And he called on other businesses to follow its lead and take advantage of rising costs overseas and growing productivity at home.

Master Lock brought back 100 jobs to the U.S. from China in response to higher labor and logistical costs in Asia.

Pointing to a rebound in manufacturing and pushing U.S. businesses to extend it, the president said: "Ask what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed."

The president made his economic pitch as Congress was poised to advance a key component of the jobs agenda he unveiled last September. Lawmakers from both parties were praising an emerging deal Wednesday on extending a payroll tax cut through the end of the year and renewing jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. They hoped to send the measure to Obama within days.

The extension would be a win for Obama, who has said the cut in the Social Security payroll tax -- amounting to about $40 per paycheck for the average worker -- is vital to keeping the economy on the right path.

"I'm glad to see that Congress is making progress," Obama said. "It will make a real difference in the lives of millions of people and as soon as Congress sends an extension of this tax cut and unemployment insurance to my desk, I will sign it right away."

Obama has repeatedly talked up the nation's manufacturing base as an engine of growth and a sign of a recovering economy. He has urged companies to promote "insourcing," promising new tax incentives for businesses that bring jobs to the U.S. instead of shipping them overseas and eliminating tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.

The manufacturing sector was hard-hit for more than a decade. Manufacturers shed 5.8 million jobs from 1999 to 2009 as many companies shifted jobs overseas to take advantage of lower costs and many plants were modernized and automated, allowing firms to do more with fewer workers.

But the sector has shown more vitality in recent months, bolstering Obama's case. Manufacturers added 50,000 jobs in January, the most in a year, and added 237,000 jobs in 2011, the largest annual boost since 1997. Of the 3.2 million jobs added by the economy since February 2010, about 400,000 are in manufacturing.

Obama carried Wisconsin by 14 points in 2008 but is expected to face a more difficult challenge this year after Republicans captured nearly every statewide office two years ago and the president's standing declined in parts of the Midwest. Obama's visit coincided with the one-year anniversary of the first widespread protests against proposals from Republican Gov. Scott Walker to effectively end collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

Walker, who greeted Obama at the airport, had been scheduled to join him for the event at Master Lock but decided at the last minute not to attend. Walker's spokesman, Cullen Werwie, said the governor was recovering from the flu and had to cancel his plans to go to the event.

The governor has been targeted for a recall election that could come in the spring or summer and has sought to define the outcome as a bellwether of how Obama will fare in Wisconsin next fall. Walker has said a win would deliver a "devastating blow" to Obama's re-election campaign.

But despite the political undertones Obama got a friendly tarmac welcome Wednesday from Walker, who presented him with a Milwaukee Brewers' jersey that bore the number 1 and Obama's name.

The two smiled and shook hands and Walker took a diplomatic tone in comments to a pool reporter at the airport: "Today's the president's day. I'm appreciative he's in Wisconsin, appreciative he's focused on manufacturing. We'll leave politics for another day."

The scene stood in stark contrast to Obama's tarmac moment with Arizona's Republican governor, Jan. Brewer, last month.

Most of Obama's trip will be devoted to fundraising. The president is holding eight fundraisers for his re-election campaign in the Los Angeles area, San Francisco and Seattle.

After departing Milwaukee, Obama was to attend two fundraisers in Los Angeles. The first is an outdoor fundraising reception at the home of soap opera producer Bradley Bell and his wife, Colleen, featuring a performance by the rock band the Foo Fighters. The campaign expects 1,000 supporters to attend, with tickets starting at $250.

Obama is also attending a dinner at Bell's home co-hosted by actor Will Ferrell and his wife, Viveca Paulin. Eighty people are expected to attend the dinner, with tickets costing $35,800. The fundraising will benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee for Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

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Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

Master Lock

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

February 15, 2012

As Prepared for Delivery –

Hello, Milwaukee! It’s great to be back in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you, DiAndre, for that introduction, and for sharing your story. And before I begin, I want to thank some additional special guests for joining us today. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is here. Your Congresswoman, Gwen Moore is here. You heard from your local UAW representative, John Drew, and I got a great tour from the President of UAW Local 469, Mike Bink. Finally, I want to thank Master Lock CEO John Hepner for inviting us today.

It’s great to be here at Master Lock. Since I’ll eventually be the father of two high school teenagers, I’m in the market for as many locks as I can get my hands on. For now, the men who follow them to school with guns will have to do.

But I’m actually here because this company has been making the most of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring jobs and manufacturing back to America.

I talked about this during the State of the Union. Over the last few decades, revolutions in technology have made many businesses more efficient and productive. That’s a good thing. It means you generally have a choice of better products and better prices. But technology has also made some jobs obsolete. And it’s allowed companies to set up shop and hire workers almost anywhere in the world where there’s an internet connection.

The result has been incredibly painful for a lot of families and communities, especially here in the Midwest. Too many factories where people thought they’d retire have left town. Too many jobs that provided a decent living have been shipped overseas. And the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs aren’t coming back. In a global economy, some companies will always find it more profitable to pick up and do business in other parts of the world.

But that doesn’t mean we have to sit by and settle for a lesser future. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to create new jobs and restore middle-class security in America. Of course there is.

For starters, I’m glad to see that Congress is making progress on extending the payroll tax cut so that taxes don’t go up on 160 million working Americans. This tax cut means that the typical American family will see an extra $40 in every paycheck this year. It will help speed up this recovery. It will make a real difference in the lives of millions of people and as soon as Congress sends an extension of this tax cut and unemployment insurance to my desk, I will sign it right away.

But this is only a start. There’s a lot more we can do – a lot more we should do – to help create jobs, bring back manufacturing, and restore middle-class security.

I took office at a time when the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. And today, the American auto industry is back. General Motors is the world’s number one automaker again. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, over the past two years, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. And today, it’s happening right here at Master Lock.

Over the last few years, it’s become more expensive to do business in countries like China. Meanwhile, American workers have become even more productive. So when John was at the White House in January, he told me that it now makes more business sense for Master Lock to bring jobs back home to Milwaukee. And today, for the first time in fifteen years, this plant is running at full capacity – a proud example of what can happen when unions and employers work together to create good jobs. Today, you’re selling products directly to customers in China that are stamped with three proud words: “Made In America.”

For the first time since the 1990s, American manufacturers are creating new jobs, which is good for companies up and down the supply chain. You’ve all heard enough about outsourcing. Well, more and more companies like Master Lock are now insourcing. They’re deciding that if the cost of doing business here is no longer much different than the cost of doing business in countries like China, they’d rather place their bets on America. They’d rather bet on the country with the best colleges and universities to train workers with new skills and produce cutting-edge research. They’d rather place their bet on the nation with the greatest diversity of talent and ingenuity; the country with the greatest capacity for innovation that the world has ever known.

During the State of the Union, I issued a challenge to America’s business leaders: ask what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed. Since then, a number of companies – large and small, foreign and domestic – have come forward to say that they plan to open new facilities and create new jobs right here in America.

These include Wisconsin companies like Diamond Precision, a machine manufacturer that will be adding dozens of jobs here in Milwaukee – a company that’s growing because its customers are choosing to buy American-made products instead of supplies from China. There’s also Collaborative Consulting, an information technology company that wants to open a new call center in Wasau. And across the nation, there are well-known companies like Caterpillar that are planning to bring jobs back to America.

Last month, we decided to hold a summit at the White House so we could hear from companies like these that have decided to insource jobs. And this fall, for the first time, we’ll be bringing companies from around the world together with governors and mayors and other leaders to discuss the benefits of investing and creating more jobs in the United States.

Our job as a nation is to do everything we can to make the decision to insource more attractive for more companies. Our job is to seize this moment of opportunity to create new American jobs and American manufacturing. And the place to start is our tax code.

Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it. Politicians of both parties have been talking about changing it for years. So my message to Congress is this: get it done.

First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay and hire in the United States of America.

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community like this one that’s been hit hard by factories leaving town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.

Milwaukee, it is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. This Congress should send me these tax reforms and I will sign them right away.

Another thing we’re doing to support American jobs is making it easier for businesses like Master Lock sell their products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, we are on track to meet that goal – ahead of schedule. Soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Milwaukee.

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules. It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they’re heavily subsidized. That’s why I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit with one job: investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China. American workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you – America will always win.

Part of creating that level playing field is also making sure that American workers have the skills that today’s jobs require. I know that Master Lock’s decision to create even more jobs here in Milwaukee will depend on whether they can find enough workers with the right training. That’s why the company’s investing in training programs and partnering with nearby community colleges to help design courses and curriculum. And that’s why I’ve asked Congress to join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. We need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers – places that teach people skills that businesses like Master Lock are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing. At a time when so many Americans are looking for work, no job opening should go unfilled just because people didn’t have the opportunity to get the education they need.

We are still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations, and we have a long way to go before everyone who wants a good job can find one; before middle-class Americans regain the sense of security that’s been slipping away since long before the recession hit.

But over the last 23 months, businesses have added nearly 3.7 million new jobs. Manufacturing is coming back. Companies are bringing jobs back. The economy is getting stronger. The recovery is speeding up. And now we have to do everything in our power to keep our foot on the gas – because the last thing we can afford is to go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.

We are not going back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. We need an economy that’s built to last – an economy based on American manufacturing, American-made energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of the values that made this country great: Hard work. Fair play. Shared responsibility.

These aren’t Democratic or Republican values. They’re American values. They’ve seen us through the most difficult challenges, and helped us emerge stronger than before.

That’s America. In this country, we don’t give up. We look out for one another. We reach for new opportunities and we pull each other up. That’s who we are. And if we work together now, in common purpose, and common effort, I have no doubt that we will build an economy that lasts, and remind the world just why the United States is the greatest nation on Earth.

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[MADISON, WI]- Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney released the following statement regarding President Obama’s campaign stop in Milwaukee:

"President Obama brought his roadshow to Milwaukee today, in what was ultimately nothing more than a taxpayer-funded campaign stop in his quest for re-election. Sadly, the President's remarks were simply more of the same empty promises we've come to expect from the campaigner-in-chief. Voters have grown weary of the President's stream of empty rhetoric, and Wisconsin families would like to know what happened to the promises he made when he first campaigned for his job three years ago?

"During his campaign, the President pledged to lower health insurance premiums, move to end our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs, and cut our deficit in half by the end of his first term. Rather than fulfill these promises to the American people, the President made it clear today that he's thrown in the towel in favor of basing his re-election campaign on more hollow rhetoric in hopes that the American people will simply forget his failed record.

“Wisconsin families haven't forgotten the President's pledge to turn our economy around by the end of his first term. President Obama openly admitted his disastrous presidency will be a 'one-term proposition.' After three years of failed promises, Wisconsin voters intend to make good on the President’s pledge by returning to the polls in November and ensuring his 'one-term proposition' becomes a reality.”


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