President-elect Barack Obama took his lobbying effort for his economic and environmental plan on the road Friday — to a factory in Bedford Heights, Ohio, just outside Cleveland.
Obama toured Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Inc., a company that manufactures unique screws and bolts needed for commercial construction wind turbines. Using the company as a model of economic and environment success, the president-elect touted a key part of his economic plan, the creation of permanent green energy jobs as part of a long-term investment into a healthy economy.
"Cardinal hired two workers this week. With all the bad news going out there, with all the word of jobs being lost and businesses shuttered, jobs were created right here this week," Obama said. "The story of this company, which began building wind turbine parts just two years ago and is now poised to make half its earnings that way, is that renewable energy isn’t something high in the sky; it’s not part of a far-off future."
The president-elect pushed his stimulus plan, which he said would create 459,000 jobs in the energy industry and save and generate 3.7 million jobs.
Against the chilly backdrop of Ohio, the president-to-be called for "dramatic action as soon as possible" to create new jobs and help the faltering economy, calling it the "first job" of his administration.
"That’s why I’ve moved quickly to work with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American recovery and reinvestment plan that will immediately jump-start job creation and long-term growth," Obama said. "And I’m pleased that Congress has seen the urgency, as well, and is moving quickly to consider such a plan."
Obama has been making appearances on Capitol Hill, along with his economic adviser Larry Summers, and has talked with Democratic lawmakers to hash out a plan that could boast a price tag upwards of $825 million.
The plan has been coldly received by Republicans, who say it will boost government spending but not the economy.
"They’re moving on this path along the flawed notion that we can borrow and spend our way back to prosperity," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
But only four days away from the presidency, Obama has stepped up efforts to sell his plan to the people.
In a statement praising the bill, the Obama team said the package would "save or create over three million jobs, provide tax relief to struggling families and businesses that create jobs, and invest in priorities like health care, education, and energy that will make America strong and competitive in the 21st century."
At the same time, he continued to use his words with caution, stressing again — just as he has in his appearances since his victory — that things will get worse before they get better.
"Given the magnitude of the challenges we face, none of this will come easy. Recovery won’t happen overnight, and it’s likely that, even with these measures, things will get worse before they get better," Obama warned today. "But if anyone doubts that we can dig ourselves out of this hole, I invite them to come here to Ohio and look what you’ve done at Cardinal Fastener."
For some companies, digging out of their financial troubles may not come so easy.
Just a sampling of bad news that came today with announcements of at least 51,000 workers: Bankrupt retailer Circuit City said it will close its 567 U.S. stores and cut 30,000 jobs. General Electric’s GE Capital unit will cut between 7,000 and 11,000 jobs. Rental car company Hertz Global said it will eliminate more than 4,000 jobs worldwide as it further cuts costs amid slowing demand. Drug giant Pfizer reportedly plans to lay off 2,400 sales representatives, nearly a third of its 8,000 salespeople. Advanced Micro Devices will cut 1,100 jobs, WellPoint 1,500 and Blue Cross of Michigan 1,000.
Even Citigroup — despite receiving bailout money — today suffered a quarterly loss of $8.29 billion, its fifth in a row.
Economic issues are likely to be bought up once again as Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden begin a train trip — with the theme of "Bringing the Voices of American People to Washington" — tomorrow. The "whistle-stop tour" from Philadelphia to Washington D.C is reminiscent of a similar tour Abraham Lincoln — a hero of Obama’s — took to his own inauguration 147 years ago.
ABC News’ Yunji de Nies filed a spot on the trip for the World News Webcast today from Bedford Heights:
- Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller