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Obama at Boeing "Dreamliner" plant. Transcript

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY

February 17, 2012

Remarks of President Barack Obama - As Prepared for Delivery

Boeing Production Facility

Everett, Washington

February 17, 2012

As Prepared for Delivery --

Hello, Everett! It's great to be back in Washington. And it's great to be here at Boeing. I've been told we're standing in the biggest building in the world - so big you could fit Disneyland inside it. Your heating bills must be crazy.

I want to thank Kathleen for that introduction. I also want to thank Jim McNerney and Jim Albaugh for hosting us today. Your Machinists leadership, Tom Buffenbarger, Rich Michalski, Tom Wroblewski and SPEEA President Tom McCarty are here. Governor Chris Gregoire is in the house. And I want to thank the mayor of Everett, Ray Stephanson for having us.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for giving me a pretty smooth ride. As some of you may know, Air Force One was built right here in Everett 25 years ago. So I get to see your handiwork in action every day. But as wonderful as it is to fly Air Force One, it's hard not to be amazed by the Dreamliner. This is the first commercial airplane to be made with 50% composite materials. It's lighter, faster, and more fuel efficient than any airplane in its class. Plus, it just looks cool.

The Dreamliner really 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 jobs and manufacturing back to America.

We know the last few decades have not been easy for manufacturing in America. New technology has made many businesses more efficient and productive, which is a good thing. It usually means we can get better products for less. But it means a company needs fewer workers to make the same amount of product. And technology has also made it easier for more companies to set up shop and hire workers anywhere there's an internet connection.

The result has been incredibly painful for a lot of families and communities. Too many factories where people thought they'd retire have left town. Too many jobs that provided a decent living have been shipped overseas. And the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs aren't coming back. In a global economy, some companies will always find it more profitable to pick up and do business in other parts of the world.

But that doesn't mean we have to sit by and settle for a lesser future. I don't accept that idea. In America, there's always something we can do to create new jobs and new manufacturing and new security for the middle-class.

Today, we took one important step in the short-term. Just before we got here, Congress did the right thing, and voted to make sure that taxes won't go up on middle-class families at the end of this month. They also agreed to extend unemployment insurance for millions of Americans who are out there looking for a job, and I'm going to sign this bill right away. This middle-class tax cut is something I proposed in my jobs bill back in September, and because you kept up the pressure on Congress, working Americans will have another $40 in every paycheck this year. That's a big deal. And I want to thank Congress for listening to the voices of the American people.

But the payroll tax cut is just a start. If we want to help middle-class families get ahead, we have to confront a set of economic challenges that existed even before this recession hit.

We have a choice right now. We can either settle for a country where a few people do really well, and everyone else struggles to get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.

We're still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations. We still have a long way to go to make sure everyone who wants a job can find one; and every family can regain that sense of security that's been slipping since long before this recession hit.

But the tide is beginning to turn our way. Over the last 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs. American manufacturers are hiring for the first time since the 1990s. The American auto industry is back. Our economy is getting stronger. And the last thing we can afford right now is to go back to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

We will not go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. In the State of the Union, I outlined a blueprint for an economy built to last - an economy based on American manufacturing, American-made energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of the values that made this country great: Hard work. Fair play. Shared responsibility.

That blueprint starts with American manufacturing. And it starts with companies like this one.

Here at Boeing, business is booming. Last year, orders for commercial aircraft rose by more than 50 percent. To meet that demand, you hired 13,000 workers all across America - including 5,000 here in Everett. Now the biggest challenge is how to turn out planes fast enough. That's what you call a high-class problem.

This company is a great example of what American manufacturing can do. And the impact of your success goes far 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. The wing edges come from Oklahoma. The engines are assembled in Ohio. The tail fin comes from right down the road in Frederickson. And people in every one of these communities - some of whom are here today - are benefitting from the work that you do.

What's happening here in Everett can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. We can't bring back every job that's left our shores. But right now, it's getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is 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 things better. That's what America is about. That's how we're going to compete.

During the State of the Union, I issued a challenge to America's business leaders: ask what you can do to create jobs here in your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed. And I'm encouraged that we're seeing a number of companies - large and small, foreign and domestic - coming forward to say that they plan to open new facilities and create new jobs right here in America.

Our job as a nation is to make it easier for more companies to do the right thing. And that starts with our tax code.

Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it. So my message to Congress is: what are you waiting for? Let's get this done right now.

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. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Boeing that decide to bring jobs home.

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay and hire in the United States of America.

Third, if you're an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you're a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that's been hit hard by factories leaving town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.

Everett, it's time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. This Congress should send me these tax reforms and I will sign them right away.

Another thing we're doing to support American jobs is making it easier for businesses like Boeing sell their products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. And we are on track to meet that goal - ahead of schedule.

Last November, I was in Indonesia when 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, and this was the biggest deal you've ever done. Over the years, it will help support thousands of American jobs.

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules. That's why I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit with one job: investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China.

And that's why it's so important for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. This bank is led by Fred Hochberg, who is here today, and it helps companies like Boeing, as well as thousands of small businesses. Today, the Bank will be launching a new program to help small businesses get the financing they need to sell more of their 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. American workers are the most productive on Earth, and if they can compete on a level playing field with workers in places like China or Europe, I promise you - America will always win.

One of the reasons for that is because, here in America, we've always believed in the power of innovation. And innovation requires basic research. Just look at the Dreamliner. This was the first plane designed virtually, using some technology developed by NASA. It's got windows you can dim with the touch of a finger, and displays that are projected on the cockpit windshield so pilots don't have to look down at their instruments. Some of the most advanced work was done by engineers down in Huntsville, Alabama who used to work on the International Space Station. We need to support this kind of cutting-edge research. Because we need the jobs and the industries of the future to take root, not in Europe or Asia, but right here in the United States of America.

So if we want an economy that's built to last, we have to do everything we can to strengthen American manufacturing, and make it easier for companies like Boeing to create jobs at home and sell their products abroad. We have to keep investing in American-made energy, and new skills for American workers. And above all, we have to renew the values that have always made this country great: Hard work. Fair play. Shared responsibility.

These aren't Democratic or Republican values. They're American values. They've seen us through some tough challenges, and helped us emerge stronger than before.

I know we can come out stronger this time, too. I know it because of people like you.

In December, 2009, the first Dreamliner took off on its maiden flight right here in Everett. It was a cold and windy day, but that didn't stop more than 13,000 employees from coming out to see the product of all their hard work finally take to the skies.

One of those people was Sharon O'Hara, who works as an executive office administrator for the leaders of the Dreamliner team. Now, as some of you may know, Sharon has been undergoing treatment for cancer recently, and her doctors just told her she's healthy enough to come back to work. I know there are a lot of people, including me, who are glad to see her here today.

But as Sharon watched the first plane lift gently off the runway, just like it was designed to do, she thought about everything that had gone into making that day possible - all the challenges and setbacks; the thousands of hours of brainpower and manpower. In her words, "I had goose bumps and tears. We said we would do it and we did."

You said you would do it, and you did. That's what we do as Americans. 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 and 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 now, in common purpose and common effort, then I have no doubt that we will build an economy that lasts and remind the world just why the United States is the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 17, 2012 2:13 PM.

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