Standing from the floor of the GE plant in Schenectady, New York President Obama said that two years into his presidency, with the economy now growing again, it is time to jump into “overdrive mode.”
“The past two years were about pulling our economy back from the brink,” Obama said surrounded by workers, “The next two years, our job now, is putting our economy into overdrive.”
The president said his job is to make sure everything that can be done for businesses to take root, jobs to be found, and to make sure that America is once again leading. Just over the two- year anniversary of his inauguration the president said with a new economic mission, comes a new team.
“To help fulfill this new mission, I'm assembling a new group of business leaders and outside advisers,” he said.
The president was joined on stage by GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who he announced would become the head of the new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
“We think GE has something to teach businesses all across America,” Obama said of Immelt’s leadership role, “He understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.”
In the coming days the president is expected to announce other members of the council, including business leaders, labor leaders, and economists, which will replace the president’s PERAB Board.
“I know this council will be an important asset as we seek to do everything we can to spur hiring and ensure our nation can compete with anybody on the planet,” the president said.
Echoing his goal to double US exports in five years the president said that the success of the efforts will be determined not just on what can be built in places like Schenectady, but also what can be sold in Shanghai.
“For America to compete around the world, we need to export more goods around the world. That's where the customers are. It's that simple. “
Before hand Mr. Obama toured the GE plant with Immelt, which is home to GE’s largest energy division, including steam turbines, generator and wind and solar. Soon, it will host GE’s advanced battery manufacturing facility.
Using GE as an example, the president spoke about the $755 million deal struck for GE to sell advanced turbines to generate power at a plant in Samalkot, India, financed by the administration's export initiative. That business is helping support more than 1,200 manufacturing jobs and more than 400 engineering jobs in Schenectady.
“It's a perfect example of why promoting exports is so important,” Obama said, “When a company sells products overseas, it leads to hiring on our shores. The deal in Samalkot means jobs in Schenectady. That's how we accelerate growth. That's how we create opportunities for our people.”
The president said that they have to go back to “Thomas Edison’s principles” of building and inventing.
“I want plants like this all across America. You guys are a model of what's possible.”
Mr. Immelt said that he likes to think of Schenectady as the place “where capitalism and where innovation really was born, with Thomas Edison right here in Schenectady.”
While opening up his remarks the president couldn’t resist a little football talk. He said that Governor Cuomo attempted to give him a New York Jets hat. The president, a Chicago Bears fan relented and claimed that he had Secret Service confiscate it.
“But I will say both the Jets and the Bears, I think, are slight underdogs,” Obama said, “So we're going to be rooting for the underdogs on Sunday.”
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller