Political Headlines February 13, 2013: Extending on a State of the Union Theme, President Barack Obama Promotes Resurgence in US Manufacturing in North Carolina

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Extending a Theme, Obama Promotes Resurgence in U.S. Manufacturing

Source: NYT, 2-13-13

President Obama on Wednesday visited the Linamar Corporation, which makes parts for heavy-duty engines, in Asheville, N.C.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama on Wednesday visited the Linamar Corporation, which makes parts for heavy-duty engines, in Asheville, N.C.

President Obama traveled to North Carolina on Wednesday to promote the resurgence of American manufacturing, a core message from his State of the Union address….READ MORE

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Full Text Obama Presidency February 13, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Manufacturing at Linamar Corporation in Asheville, North Carolina

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Manufacturing — Asheville, NC

Source: WH, 2-13-13

Linamar Corporation
Asheville, North Carolina

12:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello, North Carolina!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back.  I love coming to Asheville.  (Applause.)  Love coming to Asheville.  Michelle and I always talk about how after this whole presidency thing, we’re looking for a little spot to — (applause) —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Come on down.

THE PRESIDENT:  Come on down?  (Applause.)  Play a little golf, do a little hiking, fishing, barbecue.  There are two things that keep bringing me back here.  Number one is I really like the people.  And number two is 12 Bones, which I will be stopping on the way back to the airport.  (Laughter and applause.)

Now, I want to start off by thanking Stratton for the wonderful introduction.  And what made it wonderful was not only did he do a great job, but it was really brief.  (Laughter.)  And I also want to thank Frank and Jim and everybody at Linamar for hosting us and giving me this terrific tour of the plant.

I want to point out two elected officials who are with us here today –- first of all, your Mayor, Terry Bellamy.  (Applause.)  Where is Mayor Bellamy?  There she is.  Good to see you.  Plus, you got a wonderful mayor.  I like that in you, too. And also, Congressman Mel Watt is here.  So give Congressman Watt a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

So last night, I delivered the State of the Union Address.  (Applause.)  And I talked about steps we can take right now to strengthen our recovery, but also to build up our middle class.  And I said that while we’re seeing some signs of solid progress — car sales are up, housing is starting to recover — we’re still a ways away from where we need to be.  There are still too many Americans who are out there every day.  They’re pounding the pavement.  They’re looking for work.  You guys probably know friends or family members who are still pretty strapped, having a difficult time.  And while it’s true that corporate profits have rocketed to an all-time high, it’s also true that for more than a decade now, wages and incomes haven’t gone up at all just about.
So we’ve got a lot of work to do.  And our job — and this is a job for everybody; it’s not a Democratic thing or a Republican thing.  Our job as Americans is to restore that basic bargain that says if you work hard, if you’re willing to meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead.  You can get ahead.  (Applause.)  It doesn’t matter what you look like.  It doesn’t matter where you come from.  That’s what we should be focused on: How do we make sure that people who are willing to work hard can make a decent living and look after their family?

Because the true engine of America’s economic growth has always been our middle class.  Now, there are a lot of countries that have folks at the top who are doing real well, and a bunch of folks at the bottom, but part of what set America apart was ordinary folks, if they worked hard, they could do well.  Our middle class when it’s growing, when it’s thriving, when there are ladders of opportunity for people to do a little bit better each year and then make sure that their kids are doing even better than them — that’s the American Dream.  That’s what we got to fight for.  That has to be the North Star that guides everything we do.

And as I said last night, we should be asking ourselves three questions every single day.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re in North Carolina or Texas or California or Oregon.  It doesn’t matter.  Wherever we are, three things we should be asking.  Number one — how do we bring more jobs to America?  Number two — how do we equip people with the skills they need to do those jobs?  And number three — how do we make sure that once they have a job, it leads to a decent living?

I believe we reward effort and determination with wages that allow working families to raise their kids and get ahead.  (Applause.)  And that’s part of the reason why I said last night that it’s time for an increase in the minimum wage, because if you work full-time, you shouldn’t be in poverty.  (Applause.)

I also believe we provide our people skills and training by investing in education, and that has to start early.  It has to start early.  So I talked about making sure that kids are getting an early childhood education, making sure that our high schools are preparing our children for a high-tech economy, and making sure that colleges are affordable and accessible to every single American.  (Applause.)

And I believe we attract new jobs to America by investing in new sources of energy and new infrastructure and the next generation of high-wage, high-tech American manufacturing.  I believe in manufacturing.  I think it makes our country stronger.  (Applause.)

So that’s what we can do together.  And that’s why I wanted to come down here to Asheville, because there’s a good story to tell here.  I know that a few years ago, manufacturing comebacks in North Carolina, a manufacturing comeback in Asheville may not have seemed real likely, because Volvo had just left town.  This plant had gone dark — 228 jobs had vanished.  And that was a big blow for this area, because part of what happens is when those manufacturing jobs go away, then suddenly the restaurant has fewer customers, and suppliers for the plant start withering.  And it’s hard for everybody.  It has a ripple effect.

But then local officials started reaching out to companies, offering new incentives to take over this plant.  Some of the workers who got laid off, like Stratton, went back to school and they learned new skills.  And then, a year later, Linamar showed up.  They were looking for a place to build some big parts.  And these parts are big, I got to say — (laughter) — hubs and wheels and anchors for 400-ton mining trucks.  And while they could have gone any place in the world, they saw this incredible potential right here in Asheville.  They saw the most promise in this workforce, so they chose to invest in Asheville, in North Carolina, in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So to date, Linamar has hired 160 workers.  It will be 200 by the end of the year, and it’s just going to keep on going after that.  (Applause.)  So the folks at Linamar said, they came to Asheville to grow their business.  They came here to stay and put down some roots.

And the good news is what’s happening here is happening all around the country.  Because just as it’s becoming more and more expensive to do business in places like China, America is getting more competitive and more productive.

After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have now added about 500,000 jobs over the past three years.  (Applause.)  And I mentioned this last night — Caterpillar, which I know you guys supply, they’re bringing jobs back from Japan.  Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico.  After placing plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant here in the United States.  Apple is starting to make Macs in America again.  (Applause.)

So we’re seeing this trend of what we call insourcing, not just outsourcing.  And the reason is because America has got outstanding workers.  We’re starting to produce more homegrown energy, which is driving down our energy costs.  And, obviously, we’ve still got the biggest market in the world.  And if we try to improve our infrastructure a little bit more, then we’re going to be even that much more competitive.

Now, I want to be honest with you.  We’re not going to bring back every job that’s been lost to outsourcing and automation over the last decade.  I was talking to some of the guys who were showing me their facilities who had been in manufacturing for 20 years, and they explained how things had changed.  It used to be you had to — you wanted to do the kind of stuff you guys are doing here — everything was done manually.  Now you’ve got a computer and you’re punching in stuff.  So it’s changed, and that means that you can just produce a lot more with fewer people.

But there are things we can do right now to accelerate the resurgence of American manufacturing.

Number one — we can create more centers for high-tech manufacturing in America.  Last year, my administration created our first manufacturing innovation institute.  We put it in Youngstown, Ohio, which had been really hard-hit when manufacturing started going overseas.  And so you have a once-shuttered warehouse — it’s now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering what’s called 3-D printing, which has the potential to revolutionize the way we make everything.  That’s the future.  And there’s no reason that those same kinds of projects can’t take root in other cities and towns.

So last night, I announced the launch of three more institutes.  And I’m calling on Congress to help us set up 15 institutes –- global centers of high-tech jobs and advanced manufacturing around the country.  (Applause.)

The second thing we need to do is make our tax code more competitive.  Right now, companies get all kinds of tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas, but companies that stay here get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  That doesn’t make any sense.  So what I’m proposing is that we reform our tax code, stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, reward companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  That makes sense.  (Applause.)

Number three — if you’re a manufacturing town, especially one that’s taken a hit — that’s seen a company close up shop or a plant shut down — I want to partner with local leaders to help you attract new investment.  Because once that investment starts coming in, things can start turning around.  And that means infrastructure gets modernized and research facilities get built, and suddenly a community that was knocked down is getting back up, and they’re attracting new manufacturers who want to come and expand and hire.

So I want us to focus on — if a place like — when Asheville lost the Volvo plant, we’ve got to come in here real quick and help them figure out, all right, what is it that we need to attract a new employer.

Number four — we’ve got to help our workers get the training to compete for the industries of tomorrow.  At least a couple of the guys that I had a chance to meet as we were taking the tour told me they were out of work for a year — in one case, two years — in part because we kept unemployment insurance in place so folks could get back on their feet, they were able to go back to school, and now are gainfully employed.  No job in America should go unfilled because somebody doesn’t have the right skills to get that job — nobody.  (Applause.)

So if there is a job open, we should train those folks right away, so that they can do the job.  And that’s why I’m proposing a national goal of training 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.  And we know this works.  After Linamar came to town, they started working with AB-Tech, one of the community colleges here in Asheville.  (Applause.)  And AB-Tech and Linamar worked together to do something that is really smart.  Rather than have kids just — or in some cases not kids, older workers — show up and they’re taking a bunch of classes but they don’t know how this is directly going to lead to a job, what you do is you customize the class to train people so they can come and work at the plant and they’re getting experience that’s directly applicable to what’s being done here at the job.  (Applause.)

That’s good for the community.  It’s good for Linamar, because they’re getting workers who they know can do the job.  It’s good for the folks who are going to the community college, because they know if they work hard and they do well in the class there’s a job waiting for them.  It’s good for the economy as a whole.

So those are four common-sense steps that we can take right now to strengthen manufacturing in America.  There’s no magic bullet here.  It’s just some common-sense stuff.  People still have to work hard.  Companies like Linamar still have to make good products.  But the point is, is that if we can just do a few things, then over time what happens is we start rebuilding our manufacturing base in a way that strengthens our economy as a whole.

Now, I’m doing what I can just through administrative action, but I need Congress to help.  I need Congress to do their part.  (Applause.)  I need Congress to take up these initiatives, because we’ve come too far and we’ve worked too hard to turn back now.

And you think about all that this city and all of you have been through over the last few years.  Think about folks like Jeff Brower.  Now, Jeff was in the trucking industry for over a decade.  Two years ago, he got laid off.  He lost his job as a diesel mechanic.  That’s a tough thing to go through, even though Jeff is a pretty tough guy.  But he bounced back.  He decided it was time for him to change careers.  He decided it was time to get some new skills.  He went to AB-Technology, took a class in automated machining.  A few months ago, Jeff got his diploma.  He graduated on a Wednesday, interviewed at this plant on Thursday. By Friday, he was working as a machine operator.  (Applause.)

Where’s Jeff?  There he is, right here.  (Applause.)  Now, obviously, Jeff is pretty good at interviews — (laughter) — because he just got hired like that.  I hope he can give me some advice.  (Laughter.)

But here’s the thing.  The reason Jeff did all that — obviously, a lot of it was to support himself and his family — but it wasn’t just to punch a clock at a new plant or pick up a paycheck from a new company.  It was to make sure he could have a better future for his family and for his community and his country.  Jeff said, “Getting my foot in the door has opened my eyes to bigger horizons.  And I want to keep on going.”  I want to keep on going.  (Applause.)

So that’s our story.  That’s the American story.  We don’t give up.  We get up.  We innovate.  We adapt.  We learn new skills.  We keep going.  And I just want everybody here to know at this plant, but everybody in Asheville, everybody in North Carolina and everybody all across the country — I want you to know as long as you’re out here fighting every day to better your lives and to better the lives of your children, then I’ll be back in Washington fighting for you.  (Applause.)  I will be back there fighting for you — because there’s nothing we can’t do and no possibilities we can’t reach when we’re working together.  We just have to work together.

And we’ve got to stop with some of the politics that we see in Washington, sometimes that’s focused on who’s up and who’s down.  Let’s just focus on the same kind of common sense and cooperation that we’re seeing at this plant and we see all across the country.

So thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.

END
12:30 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency March 9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Manufacturing and the Economy

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Talks About How to Boost Innovation in Manufacturing

Source: WH, 3-9-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy in Petersburg, VA (March 9, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy after touring the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility in Prince George County, Va., March 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

On a day when we received another strong jobs report — private employers added 233,000 jobs in February, marking the 24th straight month of job growth  — President Obama headed to Petersburg, Virginia to talk about additional steps we can take to continue boosting the economy.

Manufacturing is one of the sectors helping to lead the recovery, and today American factories are adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. That’s a valuable trend, and President Obama is doing everything in his power to support it.

President Barack Obama tours the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility (March 9, 2012)

President Barack Obama tours the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility in Prince George County, Va., March 9, 2012. President Obama viewed a machine cutting titanium into airplane engine parts used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Through an initiative called the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the President has convened some of the leading minds in science, education, and industry with a goal of ensuring that products that change the world are invented and assembled right here in the United States. In Petersburg, he discussed his plans to build on their work:

I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation–-and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes.

The President is investing $45 million in a pilot program aimed at promoting collaboration between government and industry in order to encourage innovation in manufacturing:

With that pilot in place, we’ll keep on pushing Congress to do the right thing because this is the kind of approach that can succeed, but we’ve got to have this all across the country. I want everybody thinking about how are we making the best products; how are we harnessing the new ideas and making sure they’re located here in the United States.

To learn more, read the President’s full remarks.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Manufacturing and the Economy

Rolls-Royce Crosspointe
Petersburg, Virginia

12:57 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Virginia!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Wow, what a unbelievable crowd.  Everybody, please have a seat — if you have one.  (Laughter.)

Well, thank you, James, for that rousing introduction and letting me hang out a little bit with your workers.  We’ve got a few other folks I want to acknowledge:  The Governor of the great Commonwealth of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, is here.  (Applause.)  Outstanding Congressman Bobby Scott is in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got your Mayor, Brian Moore.  (Applause.)  And I want to very much say thank you to our outstanding Secretary of Commerce, Secretary Bryson, who was here and he is doing great work trying to create jobs and investment and opportunity all across the country.  (Applause.)

It is great to be back in Petersburg.  (Applause.)  Last time I was here was during the campaign.  I had my bus pull over so I could get a cheeseburger — (laughter) — at Longstreet’s Deli.  (Applause.)  You guys have eaten there.  (Laughter.)  Some of you may think this violates Michelle’s Let’s Move program — (laughter) — but she gives me a pass when it comes to a good burger — (laughter) — and fries.

Now, back then, in 2008, we were talking about how working Americans were already having a tough go of it.  Folks were working harder and longer for less.  It was getting tougher to afford health care or to send your kids to college.  The economy was already shedding jobs, and in less than a decade, nearly one in three manufacturing jobs had vanished.  Then the bottom fell out of the economy, and things got that much tougher.  We were losing 700,000 to 800,000 jobs a month.  The economy was hemorrhaging.

And three and a half years later, we’re still recovering from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.  And we’ve got a lot of work to do before everybody who wants a good job can find one, before middle-class folks regain that sense of security that had been slipping away even before the recession hit, and before towns like Petersburg get fully back on their feet.

But here’s the good news:  Over the past two years, our businesses have added nearly 4 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  We just found out that last month in February we added 233,000 private sector jobs.  (Applause.)  More companies are bringing jobs back and investing in America.  And manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  (Applause.)  We just had another good month last month in terms of adding manufacturing jobs.  And this facility is part of the evidence of what’s going on all across the country.  This company is about to hire more than 200 new workers — 140 of them right here in Petersburg, Virginia.  (Applause.)

So the economy is getting stronger.  And when I come to places like this, and I see the work that’s being done, it gives me confidence there are better days ahead.  I know it because I would bet on American workers and American know-how any day of the week.  (Applause.)

The key now — our job now is to keep this economic engine churning.  We can’t go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.  We can’t go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.  We’ve got to have an economy that’s built to last.  And that starts with American manufacturing.  It starts with you.  (Applause.)

For generations of Americans, manufacturing has been the ticket into the middle class.  Every day, millions clocked in at foundries and on assembly lines, making things.  And the stuff we made — steel and cars and jet engines — that was the stuff that made America what it is.  It was understood around the world.

The work was hard, but the jobs were good.  They paid enough to own a home, and raise kids and send them to college, gave you enough to retire on with dignity and respect.  They were jobs that told us something more important than how much we were worth; they told us what we were worth.  They told us that we were building more than just products.  They told us we were building communities and neighborhoods, we were building a country.  It gave people pride about what America was about.

And that’s why one of the first decisions I made as President was to stand by manufacturing, to stand by the American auto industry when it was on the brink of collapse.  (Applause.)  The heartbeat of American manufacturing was at stake — and so were more than a million jobs.  And today, the American auto industry is coming back, and GM is number one in the world again, and Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories.  (Applause.)  And together, over the past two and a half years, the entire auto industry has added more than 200,000 jobs.

And here’s the thing.  They’re not just building cars again, they’re building better cars.  For the first time in three decades, we raised fuel standards in this country, so that by the middle of the next decade the cars that are built in America will average nearly 55 miles to the gallon.  (Applause.)  That will save the typical family about $8,000 at the pump over time.  That’s real savings.  (Applause.)  That’s real money.

And it shows that depending on foreign oil doesn’t have to be our future.  It shows that when we harness our own ingenuity, our technology, then we control our future.  See, America thrives when we build things better than the rest of the world.  I want us to make stuff here and sell it over there.  (Applause.)  I don’t want stuff made over there and selling it over here.  (Applause.)  And that’s exactly what you’re doing here at the largest Rolls-Royce facility in the world.  That’s what you’re doing by building the key components of newer, faster, more fuel-efficient jet engines.

I just took a tour and I learned a bit about how a jet engine comes together.  Don’t quiz me on it.  (Laughter.)  I’m a little fuzzy on some of the details.  (Laughter.)  I did press some buttons back there.  (Laughter.)

But a few weeks ago, I actually got to see the finished product.  I went to Boeing, in Washington State, and I checked out a new Dreamliner.  I even got to sit in the cockpit, which was pretty sweet.  I didn’t press any buttons there, though — (laughter) — because if it had started going it would have been a problem.

So this plane, the Dreamliner, is going to keep America at the cutting edge of aerospace technology.  American workers are manufacturing various components for it in Ohio, and Oklahoma, and South Carolina, and Kansas, and right here in Petersburg.  In fact, the demand for their planes was so high last year that Boeing had to hire 13,000 workers all across America just to keep up.  And Boeing is gaining more and more share all the time.

So think about that.  Rolls-Royce is choosing to invest in America.  You’re creating jobs here, manufacturing components for jet engines, for planes that we’re going to send all around the world.  And that’s the kind of business cycle we want to see.  Not buying stuff that’s made someplace else and racking up debt, but by inventing things and building things and selling them all around the world stamped with three proud words:  “Made in America.”  (Applause.)  Made in America.

Think about how important this is.  I mean, imagine if the plane of the future was being built someplace else.  Imagine if we had given up on the auto industry.  Imagine if we had settled for a lesser future.

But we didn’t.  We’re Americans.  We are inventors.  We are builders.  We’re Thomas Edison and we’re the Wright Brothers and we are Steven Jobs.  That’s who we are.  That’s what we do.  We invent stuff, we build it.  And pretty soon, the entire world adapts it.  That’s who we are.  And as long as I’m President, we’re going to keep on doing it.  (Applause.)  We’re going to make sure the next generation of life-changing products are invented and manufactured here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So that’s why we launched an all-hands-on-deck effort.  We brought together the brightest academic minds, the boldest business leaders, the most dedicated public servants from our science and our technology agencies all with one big goal:  a renaissance in American manufacturing.  We called it the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  And today, we’re building on it.

I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation –- and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes.

And if this sounds familiar, that’s because what you’re about to do right here at Crosspointe.  Later this summer, the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing will open its doors.  And it’s a partnership between manufacturers, including this one, UVA, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University — (applause) — VSU is a little overrepresented here, obviously —  (laughter) — the Commonwealth and the federal government.  So think of this as a place where companies can share access to cutting-edge capabilities.  At the same time, students and workers are picking up new skills, they’re training on state-of-the-art equipment; they’re solving some of the most important challenges facing our manufacturers.

You just got all this brain power and skill and experience coming together in this hub, and that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.  It allows everybody to learn from each other and figure out how we’re going to do things even better.  It’s going to help get that next great idea from a paper or a computer to the lab, to the factory, to the global marketplace.  And that’s especially important for the one in three Americans in manufacturing who work for a small business that doesn’t always have access to resources like these.

Obviously, big companies — the Boeings, the Intels, the Rolls Royces — they’ve got the resources, the capital, to be able to create these platforms.  But some of the small to medium-sized businesses, it’s a little bit harder.  So this gives them access and allows them to take part in this new renaissance of American inventiveness.  And we’ve got to build these institutes all across the country — all across the country.  I don’t want it just here at Crosspointe, I want it everywhere.

To do that, we need Congress to act.  Hmm.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s true.  (Laughter.)  But that doesn’t mean we have to hold our breath.  We’re not going to wait — we’re going to go ahead on our own.  Later this year, we’re going to choose the winner of a competition for a pilot institute for manufacturing innovation — help them get started.  With that pilot in place, we’ll keep on pushing Congress to do the right thing because this is the kind of approach that can succeed, but we’ve got to have this all across the country.  I want everybody thinking about how are we making the best products; how are we harnessing the new ideas and making sure they’re located here in the United States.

And sparking this network of innovation across the country – it will create jobs and it will keep America in the manufacturing game.  Of course, there’s more we can do to seize this moment of opportunity to create new jobs and manufacturing here in America.

We’ve got to do everything we can to encourage more companies to make the decision to invest in America and bring jobs back from overseas.  And we’re starting to see companies do that.  They’re starting to realize this is the place with the best workers, the best ideas, the best universities.  This is the place to be.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to give them a little more encouragement.

Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.  Companies that choose to invest in America, they get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  Does that make any sense?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  It makes no sense.  Everybody knows it.  So it’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas; reward companies that create good jobs right here in the United States of America.  That’s how our tax code can work.  (Applause.)  That’s how our tax code should work.

At the same time, we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure our kids get an education that gives them every chance to succeed.  (Applause.)  I’ve been told that last year’s valedictorian at Petersburg High, whose name is Kenneisha Edmonds, she had a pretty good statement.  She said her cap and gown was “the best gown that anybody can hang in their closet.”  (Laughter.)  I like that.  So let’s make sure students like Kenneisha have teachers who bring out the best in them.  Let’s make sure if they want to go to college, their families can afford them to go to college.  (Applause.)

And let’s make sure all our workers have the skills that companies like this one are looking for — because we’ve got to have folks engaged in lifelong learning.  The days when you started out at 20 at one company and you just kept on doing the same thing for 40 years — that’s not going to happen anymore.

So even if — as I was meeting some of the folks here, they had been in the industry, they’d been machinists, they’d been in manufacturing for years.  But they’re constantly upgrading their skills and retraining.  And some of them had been laid off and had gone back to school before they came to this company.  And so we’ve got to make sure those opportunities for people mid-career and onward, that they can constantly go back to a community college and retool so that they can make sure they’re qualified for the jobs of tomorrow.

At a time when so many Americans are looking for work, no job opening should go unfilled just because people didn’t have an opportunity to get the training they needed.  And that’s why I’ve asked Congress — (applause) — I’ve asked Congress, join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with the skills that will lead directly to a job — right now.  (Applause.)

We need to create more partnerships like the one this plant has with John Tyler Community College.  (Applause.)  We should give more community colleges the resources they need.  I want them to be community career centers — places that teach people skills that companies are looking for right now, from data management to the kind of high-tech manufacturing that’s being done at this facility.

So day by day, we’re restoring this economy from crisis.  But we can’t stop there.  We’ve got to make this economy ready for tomorrow.  Day by day, we’re creating new jobs, but we can’t stop there — not until everybody who’s out there pounding the pavement, sending out their résumés has a chance to land one of those jobs.

Every day we’re producing more oil and gas than we have in years, but we can’t stop there.  I want our businesses to lead the world in clean energy, too.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the best colleges and universities in the world, but we can’t stop there. I want to make sure more of our students can afford to go to those colleges and universities.  (Applause.)  Everybody knows we’ve got the best workers on Earth, but we can’t stop there.   We’ve got to make sure the middle class doesn’t just survive these times, we want them to thrive.  We want them to dream big dreams and to feel confident about the future.

I did not run for this office just to get back to where we were.  I ran for this office to get us to where we need to be.  (Applause.)  And I promise you we will get there.  (Applause.)   Some of these challenges may take a year; some may take one term; some may take a decade — but we’re going to get there.  Because when we work together, we know what we’re capable of.  We’ve got the tools, we’ve got the know-how, we’ve got the toughness to overcome any obstacle.  And when we come together and combine our creativity and our optimism and our willingness to work hard, and if we’re harnessing our brainpower and our manpower, our horsepower, I promise you we will thrive again.  We will get to where we need to go.  And we will leave behind an economy that is built to last.  We will make this another American century.

Thank you.  (Applause.)  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
1:20 P.M. EST

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