Bloomberg News

Obama Speech to Embrace Manufacturing Rebirth as Job Creator

January 26, 2012

(Updates with comments from Boehner and Reid starting in 14th paragraph.)

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama tonight will lay out what he calls a “blueprint” for revitalizing the economy, emphasizing a rebirth for U.S. manufacturing, bolstering domestic energy production and training workers.

In his third State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress, Obama will focus on economic concerns in an election-year speech that sets policy priorities as it lays out themes for his re-election campaign.

The speech will include “the principles that President Obama has brought to public service since he began his career in public service,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said yesterday without giving specifics. “And I’m sure that the campaign is focused on those same ideas, because they are working to get the president re-elected.”

While administration officials have promised that the address will include new proposals, Obama is unlikely to get major initiatives enacted before the November election, which will also decide control of the House and the Senate. The speech is sandwiched between the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina on Jan. 21 and the Florida primary on Jan. 31.

Obama also will be constrained this year by efforts to reduce the nation’s long-term debt. Last year’s deficit of $1.3 trillion was third-highest as a share of the economy since 1945.

The president is scheduled to deliver the televised address at 9 p.m. Washington time. The Republican response will be delivered by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who flirted last year with running for president.

Little New

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economic policy adviser to Republican candidate John McCain in 2008, said he expects Obama will offer little new and instead will “talk about the sad state of the middle class and the Republicans’ plans are going to make it worse.”

Obama previewed his message in a Dec. 6 speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, that invoked the populism of President Theodore Roosevelt. Economic inequality has left millions of Americans feeling that “the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded,” he said.

That means more “fairness” is needed in the tax code and in making sure that financial companies play by the same rules as other businesses, according to Obama. More details will be in the president’s 2013 budget, which will go to Congress Feb 13.

Buffett Rule

Responding to reports of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 13.9 percent tax rate for 2010, White House senior adviser David Plouffe said today that such a preferential rate on investment income, which is not available to typical wage- earners, was “a good example of the tax reform we need.”

He told NBC’s “Today” program that Obama will “lay out some specifics” on the so-called Buffett rule -- named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett -- which would require people with incomes of more than $1 million a year to pay at least the same percentage rate in taxes as middle-class households. In a New York Times op-ed essay in August, Buffett noted that he paid a lower tax rate -- 17.4 percent -- in 2010 than “any of the other 20 people in our office.”

When Obama announced the proposal in September, he said that “Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett.” The secretary, Debbie Bosanek, will be a guest at the speech tonight, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a Twitter posting this morning.

‘Same Old Policies’

Republicans say they are ready for a fight.

“It sounds like we’re going to hear a rerun of what we’ve heard over the last three years: more spending, higher taxes and more regulation,” House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters today. “Since the campaign apparently wrote the speech, I expect we’ll hear a campaign speech.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Obama will “lay out a road map that sets us on the path to fairness instead of inequality.” He said he expects Obama’s plan to include ideas from both political parties, and he urged Republicans “to work with him on common ideas to produce legislation, not stalemate.”

Obama also will devote a section of his speech to U.S. energy production. In a video to supporters over the weekend he said economic growth can be “fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources.”

New Incentives

Last March he called for new incentives to boost production of oil, natural gas and biofuels, tougher fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles and greater reliance on cleaner sources of energy, including nuclear power.

According to an Interior Department report last year, the Gulf of Mexico alone may have as much as 11.6 billion barrels of untapped crude -- enough to meet U.S. demand for almost two years -- and 59.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Obama has also endorsed extracting gas from shale as long as it is done in a way that is environmentally sound.

In talking about the economy, Obama may point to signs of a rebound.

The unemployment rate in December dropped to 8.5 percent, a three-year low, and employers expanded payrolls by 200,000, an indication that the job market is gaining momentum. Employers added 853,000 jobs in the second half of 2011, compared with 782,000 in the first six months. Manufacturing output climbed 0.9 percent, the biggest gain since December 2010, according to Federal Reserve data.

Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at a 3 percent annual rate in the final three months of 2011 after advancing 1.8 percent in the previous quarter, according to the median forecast of 64 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before the Commerce Department’s Jan. 27 release.

Obama will leave tomorrow morning for a three-day trip to Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan, all battlegrounds in the election.

To talk about manufacturing, Obama tomorrow will stop at Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which makes screw-type conveyors for moving materials such as feed, grain and chemicals for farming and processing facilities.

Later in the day he is scheduled to visit Chandler, Arizona, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Phoenix, where Intel Corp. has a manufacturing plant. The world’s largest chipmaker says the facility employs 9,700 people.

42.8 Million Viewers

Obama’s 2011 State of the Union was watched live by 42.8 million viewers on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, Centric, CNBC, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, according to Nielsen data. That was down 11 percent from 2010 and 18 percent from Obama’s first address to Congress in 2009. He has so far failed to garner TV audiences to match the most-watched addresses by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Obama’s campaign plans to use social media to spread the messages in his speech. The president plans an online video chat Jan. 30 on the White House page on Google Plus and the whitehouse.gov website.

--With assistance from Julianna Goldman and Eric Martin in Washington and Alexander Kowalski in New York. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Steven Komarow

To contact the reporters on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net; Margaret Talev in Washington at mtalev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net


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