In two years, the company has gone from a rapidly expanding global corporation that was benefiting from free trade agreements and strong export demand from China to a company facing significantly lower profit expectations and a downsized workforce.
Bush visited the Peoria Caterpillar plant in 2007 to showcase how the company was booming because of his administration's global trade policies and tax cuts.
Obama went back to Caterpillar to highlight it as the kind of company that would benefit from prompt passage of the economic stimulus plan because of the jobs that it would be able to create for itself and the construction industry.
"Think about all the work out there to be done," Obama said. "And Caterpillar will be selling the equipment that does the work."
In 2007, the Bush White House selected Caterpillar as an example of a beneficiary of the administration's global trade policies and tax cuts. At the time, half of Caterpillar's products were sold overseas. Exports to Australia and Chile dramatically increased as a result of free-trade agreements under the Bush Administration and exports to China grew by 40 percent and resulted in 5,000 new jobs in the United States.
Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, who met with Bush in 2007, said today that the impact of the Caterpillar cuts has been "significant."
"The trickle-down effect is pretty significant," Ardis said, noting that layoffs in one sector spread to other sectors such as restaurants and other local businesses. "It happens pretty quickly. These are not just service-level jobs, these are very good professional high-paying jobs with good benefits. You don't just walk out the door and find another job like that."
Obama reiterated that point, adding that companies doing business with Caterpillar are cutting back as well.
"What's happening at this company tells us a larger story about what's happening with our nation's economy because, in many ways, you can measure America's bottom line by looking at Caterpillar's bottom line," the president said.
ABC News' Jake Tapper, Sunlen Miller and Charles Herman contributed to this report.