President Obama Speaks On Promoting American Manufacturing and Exports

February 17, 2012 | 25:21 | Public Domain

President Obama introduces new steps that will help more American businesses sell their products around the world, create jobs right here at home, and help us build an economy that lasts.

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Remarks by the President on American Manufacturing

Boeing Production Facility
Everett, Washington

11:47 A.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Everett!  (Applause.)  It is great to be in Washington -- not Washington, D.C., in Washington State.  (Applause.)  And it is great to be here at Boeing.  (Applause.) 

I want to begin by first of all thanking Kathleen for that wonderful introduction.  We were up there talking a little bit, and she’s a pretty good representative of Boeing workers.  Kathleen told me, I have a motto:  Every day, nobody will outwork me.  And that’s a pretty good motto for Boeing, but it’s also a pretty good motto for America.  So give Kathleen a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I’ve been told we’re standing in the biggest building in the world, so big you could fit Disneyland inside.  Your heating bills must be crazy.  (Laughter.) 

I want to thank Jim McNerney and Jim Albaugh for hosting us here today.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.) Your Machinist’s leadership, Tom Buffenbarger, Rich Michalski, Tom Wroblewski and SPEEA President Tom McCarty are here.  (Applause.)  One of the finest governors in the country, Chris Gregoire is in the house.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the mayor of Everett, Ray Stephanson for having us here today.  (Applause.)  

Now, I want to thank all of you for also giving me a pretty smooth ride.  (Laughter.)  As some of you may know, Air Force One was built right here in Everett 25 years ago.  In fact, I met -- one of my guys that I met during the tour worked on the plane.  (Applause.)  So I told him he did a pretty good job.  (Laughter.)  It’s flying smooth.  I get to see your handiwork in action every single day.  But as wonderful as it is to fly Air Force One -- and it is wonderful -- it’s hard not to be amazed by the Dreamliner.  (Applause.)  I notice this one is going to United -- one of our outstanding carriers.  And I have to mention that just because I’m from Chicago, so I’ve got to -- (laughter) -- give a few extra props there. 

But this is the first commercial airplane to be made with 50 percent composite materials.  It’s lighter, it’s faster, it’s more fuel-efficient than any airplane in its class.  And it looks cool.  (Laughter and applause.) 

The Dreamliner is the plane of the future.  And by building it here, Boeing is taking advantage of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring more jobs and manufacturing back to the United States of America.  (Applause.)

We know that the last few decades haven’t been easy for manufacturing.  New technology has made businesses more efficient and more productive, and that’s a good thing.  That’s what raises our standards of living.  It means we can get better products for less.  But that also means that companies need fewer workers to make the same amount of product as they used to.  And technology makes it easier for companies to set up shop and hire workers anywhere where there’s an internet connection.  And so the result has been this -- this transition process that’s been incredibly painful for a lot of families and a lot of communities.  A lot of communities that used to rely on a lot of factory jobs, they saw those shrink.  They saw those get shipped off overseas.  Too many factories, where people thought they’d retire, left home.  Too many jobs that provided a steady, stable life, a middle-class life for people, got shipped overseas.

And look, the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs aren’t going to come back because of these increased efficiencies.  And in a global economy, some companies are always going to find it more profitable to pick up and do business in other parts of the world.  That’s just the nature of a global economy.  But that does not mean that we’ve got to just sit there and settle for a lesser future.  I don’t accept that idea.  You don’t accept that idea.  America is a place where we can always do something to create new jobs, and new opportunities, and new manufacturing, and new security for the middle class, and that’s why I’m here today.  That’s our job.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re going to do together. (Applause.)

Now just today, we actually took an important short-term step to strengthen our economy.  Just before we got here, Congress did the right thing and voted to make sure that taxes would not go up on middle-class families at the end of this month.  (Applause.)  Congress also agreed to extend unemployment insurance for millions of Americans -- maybe some of your family members -- who are still out there looking for a job.  So I’m going to sign this bill right away when I get back home.  (Applause.) 

You guys may remember, this middle-class tax cut is something I proposed in my jobs bill back in September.  And because you kept the pressure on Congress, because you reminded people what it means to have 40 bucks taken out of your paycheck every week, it got done.  This is a big deal.  And I want to thank members of Congress for listening to the voices of the American people.  It is amazing what happens when Congress focuses on doing the right thing instead of just playing politics.  This was a good example, and Congress should take pride in it.  (Applause.) 

But the payroll tax cut is just a start.  If we want middle-class families to get ahead, we've got to deal with a set of economic challenges that existed even before this recession hit.     
And we've got a choice right now:  We can either settle for a country where a few people do really well, and everybody else is struggling, or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules, from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.  Everybody is doing their part.  (Applause.)  

We’re still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations -- the worst in our lifetimes, for most of us.  And we've still got a long way to go to make sure everybody who can -- everybody who wants a job can find one, and every family can regain that sense of security that was slipping away even before this recession hit.

But the tide is turning.  The tide is beginning to turn our way.  Over the last 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs, and American manufacturers are hiring for the first time since 1990, and the American auto industry is back, and our economy is getting stronger.  And that’s why we can look towards a promising future.  (Applause.)  And Boeing is an example of that.  (Applause.)  But to keep it going, the last thing we can afford to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  (Applause.)  We can't go backwards, we got to go forwards.  We can't go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits. 

I want us to make stuff.  I want us to sell stuff.  So, in the State of the Union, I outlined a blueprint for an economy that's built to last, that has a strong foundation -- an economy based on American manufacturing and American know-how, American-made energy, skills for American workers, and the values that made America great, the values that Kathleen talked about:  hard work and fair play and shared responsibility.  That's what America is about. 

And that blueprint starts with American manufacturing.  It starts with companies like this one.  A lot of people say, well, there are going to be fewer manufacturing jobs than there were in the past.  I already said we're more efficient now.  What used to take a thousand people to make, you might only need a hundred now.  We understand that.  We understand that there are going to be more service jobs -- that's important.  We want to make sure that we're promoting service industries as well.  But manufacturing has a special place in America.  When we make stuff, and we're selling stuff, that creates jobs beyond just this plant.  It raises standards of living for everybody. 

And here at Boeing, business is booming.  Booming.  Last year, orders for commercial aircraft rose by more than 50 percent.  (Applause.)  And to meet that demand, Boeing hired 13,000 workers all across America, including 5,000 right here in Everett.  (Applause.)  Now the biggest challenge is how to turn out planes fast enough.  Jay, that’s a high-class problem to have.

So this company is a great example of what American manufacturing can do in a way that nobody else in the world can do it.  And the impact of your success, as I said, goes beyond the walls of this plant.  Every Dreamliner that rolls off the assembly line here in Everett supports thousands of jobs in different industries all across the country.  Parts of the fuselage are manufactured in South Carolina and Kansas.  Wing edges, they come from Oklahoma.  Engines assembled in Ohio.  The tail fin comes from right down the road in Frederickson.  And the people in every one of these communities, some of whom -- who are here today, they are benefitting from the work that you do.

All those workers, they spend money at the local store.  They go to restaurants.  So the service economy does better because you’re doing well.  And what’s happening here in Everett can happen in other industries.  It can happen not just here but it can happen in Cleveland, in Pittsburgh, in Raleigh.  We can’t bring every job back.  Anybody who says we can, they’re not telling you the truth.  But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China.  Meanwhile, American workers have never been more productive.  And companies like Boeing are finding out that even when we can’t make things faster or cheaper than China, we can make them better.  Our quality can be higher.  And that’s what America is about.  That’s how we’re going to compete.  (Applause.)

Now, during the State of the Union, I issued a challenge to America’s business leaders.  I said, ask yourselves what you can do to bring and create jobs here in this country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.  And I’m encouraged.  We’re actually seeing a number of companies –- large and small, domestic, but even some foreign companies –- recognizing, you know what, we’re going to open new facilities and create new jobs here in America. 

This is a good place to work.  This is a good place to be.  And our job as a nation is to make it easier for more of these companies to do the right thing. 

That starts with our tax code.  Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. 

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  That doesn’t make any sense.  So my message to Congress is, what are we waiting for?  Let’s get this done right now.  Let’s make some changes to the tax code.  (Applause.)

And let’s follow some simple principles.  First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. 

AUDIENCE:  Nooo --

THE PRESIDENT:  That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies that are deciding to bring jobs back home -- that’s who should be getting tax breaks.  (Applause.) 

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.  My attitude is every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax.  You should not have an advantage by building a plant over there, over somebody who’s investing here and hiring American workers.  (Applause.)  And every penny of that minimum tax should go towards lowering taxes for companies like Boeing that choose to stay and hire here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  

Number three, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut.  And if you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deductions you get for making your products here. 

And finally, if you want to relocate in a community that’s been hard hit by factories leaving town, then you should get help financing that new plant or financing that equipment or training for new workers. 

Everett, it is time to stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas.  Reward companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  Congress should send me these tax reforms.  I’ll sign them right away.  (Applause.)

Now, another thing we’re doing to support American jobs is making it easier for businesses like Boeing to sell their products all over the world.  Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.  We’re on track to meet that goal.  We’re actually ahead of schedule.  So last November when I was in Indonesia, Boeing announced a deal with the help of the Export-Import Bank to sell more than 200 planes to one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world.  Boeing is one of the largest exporters in America; this was one of the biggest deals Boeing had ever done.  Over the years, it will help support thousands of American jobs, including jobs here in Everett.  So I tease Jay every time I see him -- I said, I deserve a gold watch because I’m selling your stuff all the time.  (Laughter.)

I will go anywhere in the world to open up new markets for American products.  And by the way, I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules.  (Applause.)  That’s why I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit that just has one job:  investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China, or places like Europe. 

That’s why it’s so important for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.  This Bank is led by -- (applause) -- this Bank is led by Fred Hochberg, who is right here.  He's out there working with Jay all the time, selling on behalf of Boeing.  And the Export-Import Bank helps companies like this one sell its products.  It also helps thousands of small businesses. 

And today, the Bank will be launching a new program to help small businesses get the financing they need to sell more products overseas.  I’m also instructing the Bank to give American companies a fair shot by matching the unfair export financing that their competitors receive from other countries.  (Applause.) 

American workers -- you guys, folks like Kathleen -- you're the most productive on Earth.  You can compete with anybody.  You will out-work anybody, as long as the level -- as long as the playing field is level.  You can compete with any worker, anywhere, any time -- in China, in Europe, it does not matter.  If we have a level playing field, America will always win because we've got the best workers.  (Applause.)

It's also because we've always believed in the power of innovation.  Innovation requires basic research.  Look at this plane.  This plane was first designed virtually using the same technology that was developed by NASA.  Government research helped to create this plane.  We got -- I was in there fooling around with those windows, where you press them and they dim on their own.  (Laughter.)  I kept on pressing the button, and -- dimmed and got light -- one touch with a finger.  And the display is in the cockpit.  They're projected on the windshield so pilots don’t have to look down at their instruments; they can maintain their line of sight, even as they're getting all these readings.

Now, some of the work -- the most advanced work -- was done by engineers down in Huntsville, Alabama, who used to work on the International Space Station.  Their expertise, a lot of those ideas, came out of government research.  We've got to support this kind of cutting-edge research.  (Applause.)  We need to maintain our innovative edge, so that jobs and industries take root right here in the United States, not someplace else.  (Applause.)

So, Everett, if we want to build an economy that lasts, that is strong, that has a strong foundation, that helps families get into the middle class and stay in the middle class, we've got to do everything we can to strengthen American manufacturing.  We've got to make sure we're making it easier for companies like Boeing to create jobs here at home, and sell our products abroad.  We've got to keep on investing in American-made energy, and we've got to keep training American workers.  And, above all, we've got to renew the values that have always made this country great:  hard work, fair play, and shared responsibility.

These are not Democratic values or Republican values.  These are American values.  (Applause.)  They’ve seen us through some tough challenges, but we've always emerged stronger than before because of these values.  And we’re going to come out stronger than before this time as well.  And I know it because of the people who are here.    

In December of 2009, the first Dreamliner took off on its maiden flight right here in Everett.  Some of you were probably out there seeing it.  It was a cold and windy day.  That didn’t stop 13,000 employees all from coming out and seeing what they had built, seeing the product of all their hard work suddenly filling the skies. 

And one of these people was Sharon O’Hara.  Is Sharon here?  Where is Sharon?  There’s Sharon right there.  (Applause.)  Sharon works as an executive office administrator for the leaders of the Dreamliner team.  Now, executive assistant means basically you’re doing all the work.  (Laughter.)  Now, some of you may know that Sharon has been undergoing some treatment for cancer recently, so she’s got her own battle.  But her doctors recently told her she’s healthy enough to come back to work.  That’s worth applauding.  (Applause.)  Sharon, there are a lot of people who are happy to see you back at work.  (Applause.) 

And I was hearing about this, and as Sharon tells the story about watching the first plane lift gently off the runway, just the way it was designed to do, she thought about everything that had gone into making this day possible -– all the challenges, all the setbacks; the thousands of hours of brainpower and manpower -- and womanpower.  (Applause.)  And what Sharon says is -- this is a quote -- “I had goose bumps and tears.  We said we would do it and we did.”  That’s a pretty good motto.  (Applause.)  You said you would do it, and you did. 

That’s what we do as Americans.  (Applause.)  That’s the spirit we need right now.  In this country, we don’t give up, even when times are tough.  We look out for one another.  We reach for new opportunities.  We pull each other up.  We stay focused on the horizon.  That’s who we are.  That’s who we’ve always been.  And if we work together right now, with common purpose and common effort, I have no doubt we will build an economy that lasts, and we will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth.  We said it, we will do it.

God bless you.  God bless the United States.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

12:13 P.M. PST

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