Friday, August 12, 2011

Obama Unleashes Criticism Of Washington Politics In Holland, MI

Aug 11: In a small Midwestern town, at the Johnson Controls advanced battery facility in Holland, Michigan, President Obama decided to unleash his frustration with Congress and the bitter partisan politics that have characterized legislative actions in Washington, DC. It was expected that the President was going to focus much more on the recent rules [See WIMS 8/11/11] to bring fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 20205 [See WIMS 7/29/11] and fuel-efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles [See WIMS 8/9/11]. While he did mention very briefly that he "brought together the world's largest auto companies who agreed" to the standards; and emphasized "we didn't go through Congress to do it," he spent most of his speech criticizing Washington politics. The President said in part:

    "At a time when Americans are rightly focused on our economy, when Americans are asking about what's our path forward, all of you here at Johnson Controls are providing a powerful answer.  This is one of the most advanced factories in the world.  You're helping America lead in a growing new industry. You're showing us how we can come back from the worst recession that we've had in generations and start making things here in America that are sold all around the world. . . And that's why even in these difficult times, there is not a single country on Earth that wouldn't trade places with us. Not one. We've got to remember that. . .

    "Unfortunately, what we've seen in Washington the last few months has been the worst kind of partisanship, the worst kind of gridlock –- and that gridlock has undermined public confidence and impeded our efforts to take the steps we need for our economy. It's made things worse instead of better. So what I want to say to you, Johnson Controls, is: There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics. There's something wrong with our politics that we need to fix. . .

    "We know there are things we can do right now that will help accelerate growth and job creation –- that will support the work going on here at Johnson Controls, here in Michigan, and all across America. We can do some things right now that will make a difference.  We know there are things we have to do to erase a legacy of debt that hangs over the economy. But time and again, we've seen partisan brinksmanship get in the way -– as if winning the next election is more important than fulfilling our responsibilities to you and to our country. This downgrade you've been reading about could have been entirely avoided if there had been a willingness to compromise in Congress. See, it didn't happen because we don't have the capacity to pay our bills -– it happened because Washington doesn't have the capacity to come together and get things done.  It was a self-inflicted wound. . .

    "There are things we can do right now that will put more money in your pockets; will help businesses sell more products around the world; will put people to work in Michigan and across the country. And to get these things done, we do need Congress. They're common-sense ideas that have been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans, things that are supported by Carl Levin. The only thing keeping us back is our politics. The only thing preventing these bills from being passed is the refusal of some folks in Congress to put the country ahead of party. There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.

    "And that has to stop.  It's got to stop. We're supposed to all be on the same team, especially when we're going through tough times.  We can't afford to play games -- not right now, not when the stakes are so high for our economy. And if you agree with me –- it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican or an independent -- you've got to let Congress know.  You've got to tell them you've had enough of the theatrics.  You've had enough of the politics.  Stop sending out press releases.  Start passing some bills that we all know will help our economy right now.  That's what they need to do -- they've got to hear from you. . ."

    The President continued saying, ". . .over the coming weeks, I'm going to be putting out more proposals, week by week, that will help businesses hire and put people back to work.  And I'm going to keep at it until every single American who wants a job can find one. Now, we do have to pay for these things. And in order to pay for these things, Congress has to finish the job of reducing the nation's budget deficit in a sensible, responsible way. Not just with more cuts this year or next year -- those cuts would weaken the economy more than it already is, and we've already cut a trillion dollars in what's called discretionary spending.  What we need is a long-term plan to get our nation's finances in order. That's the only way we can invest in places like this.  . . We can't ask the people in this room -- working families, middle-class families -- to bear the entire burden.  We're not going to balance our budgets on the back of middle-class and working people in this country. Everybody has got to do their part. . ."

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement on the President's remarks in Michigan and said, "American families and small businesses are hurting in this economy, and they are still asking 'Where are the jobs?' That's why Republicans have acted on common-sense, pro-growth policies aimed at creating a better environment for job creation. Republicans passed a budget that includes pro-growth tax reforms that will create jobs, real entitlement reforms, and more than $6 trillion in spending cuts.  Republicans have introduced and are implementing a Plan for America's Job Creators. And the House-passed Cut, Cap & Balance Act is still sitting over in the Senate, where it could be taken up and passed immediately. President Obama likes to talk about being 'the adult in the room' -- but there's nothing 'adult' about political grandstanding. If the President wants to do something productive, he can start by delivering on his promise to outline his own recommendations to rein in the massive deficits and debt that are undermining job creation in our country."

    Access the full text of the President's comments (click here). Access Speaker Boehner's statement (click here). [#Energy/Battery, #Energy/CAFE]

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