Obama Trip to Lock Factory Evokes Smelly High School Gym Memories

By Jon Garcia

Feb 15, 2012 4:55pm
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(Image credit: Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — Though President Obama went to Master Lock Co. in Milwaukee, Wis., to champion a payroll tax cut extension and extol the virtues of continued economic vitality, he began his remarks with a memory that evokes - at least for most men – an image of fungal rather than economic growth.

“You know, I was thinking about my gym locker in high school,” Obama said to chuckles of laughter from the audience of Master Lock workers.

“And you know, if you go into the boys’ locker room in high school, sometimes it’s a little powerful, the odor in there,” he said, as laughter grew.  “So I was thinking about the fact that, you know, we weren’t washing our stuff enough.  And then I was thinking about [how] as I got older and I kept on using Master Locks, I became an even better customer because I couldn’t always remember my combination. So I’d end up having to have the lock sawed off and buy a  new one.

“So I was giving you guys a lot of business,” he said to cheers and applause, as he completed the segue from body odor to business prosperity.

Then he wasted no time in demanding that Congress send him the payroll tax cut extension legislation that, he said, will save the typical American family “an extra $40 in every paycheck this year.”

“It’ll make a real difference in the lives of millions of people,” Obama said. “And as soon as Congress sends me that extension of tax cuts and unemployment insurance to my desk, I will sign it right away.

“We’re going to get that signed,” Obama added. “But that’s only a start.

“Our job as a nation is to do everything we can to make the decision to ‘in-source’ more attractive for more companies,” he said, referring to his plan to draw jobs lost to overseas manufacturing back to the United States.

“That’s our top priority,” he said. “We’ve got to seize this moment of opportunity. We can’t let it slip away. We’ve got an opportunity to create new American jobs and American manufacturing, put that back where it needs to be.”

His list of tasks includes taking away tax incentives for companies that move jobs offshore and, conversely, giving tax incentives to companies that return jobs to the United States.

House Speaker John Boehner’s office pushed back on Obama’s comments.

“The best thing the president can do to prevent outsourcing is pull back on the destructive policies – like his health care law and regulations – and threat of tax hikes that are making it harder for American businesses to hire workers here at home,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said.

However, Obama argued that “manufacturing is coming back.  Companies are starting to bring jobs back.  The economy is getting stronger.  The recovery is speeding up.  We’re moving in the right direction. And now we have to do everything in our power to keep our foot on the gas – and the last thing  we can afford is to go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.”

Master Lock Co., the world’s largest manufacturer of padlocks and related security products, according to a press release, is a prime example of what Obama was talking about, the president said.   Instead of outsourcing jobs over the last two years, the company has brought back 100 workers to Wisconsin from overseas.

And after touring Master Lock’s padlock manufacturing process, Obama said he may be a repeat customer for the company – this time for his daughters.

“As I was looking at some of the really industrial-sized  locks, I was thinking about the fact that I am a father of two girls who are … soon going to be in high school and that it  might come in handy  to have these super locks,” Obama said. “For now, I’m just counting  on the fact that when they go to school, there are men with guns with them.”

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