President Barack Obama used ordinary, household products -- a padlock, a pair of boots, a candle and a pair of socks -- to illustrate how some manufacturers are returning jobs to U.S. soil.
“You’ve heard of outsourcing; well, this is insourcing,” the president said in his weekly radio and video address posted on the Internet. “The companies that make these products are part of a hopeful trend: They’re bringing jobs back from overseas.”
Obama made an election-year appeal to business executives at the White House this week, urging them to bring offshore jobs back to the U.S. to boost the economy and reduce the national unemployment rate of 8.5 percent.
If they do, he said, “I’ll make sure you’ve got a government that does everything in its power to help you succeed.”
He will begin by proposing in the federal budget due Feb. 6 new tax proposals that reward companies for bringing jobs home and investing in America, and he pledged to end tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.
It’s “not just because it’s increasingly the right thing to do for their bottom line, but also because it’s the right thing to do for their workers and for our communities and our country,” Obama said.
The president yesterday sought to further encourage jobs and business investment by asking Congress for power to streamline agencies, folding six of them into one new department. Presidents have had such powers until the law lapsed during the Reagan administration in 1984.
“I will only use this authority for reforms that result in more efficiency, better service and a leaner government,” Obama said. Such changes would make it easier for small-business owners to get the loans and government help needed to sell products worldwide, he said.
“Instead of forcing small-business owners to navigate the six departments and agencies in the federal government that focus on business and trade, we’ll have one department,” he said.
The plan includes creation of a new website called BusinessUSA, that would serve as a one-stop shop with information for businesses small and large that want to start selling their goods around the world.
“More companies will be able to hire new workers,” he said. “And we’ll be able to rebuild an economy that’s not known for paper profits or financial speculation, but for making and selling products like these: Products ‘Made in America.’”
In the Republican address, Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota criticized the president for delays in approving a $7 billion pipeline that would carry crude from Canada to U.S. refineries along the Gulf Coast.
The 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline is “the largest shovel-ready project in the country” and would reduce dependence on Middle East oil, hold down energy costs and add thousands of American jobs, Hoeven said. If it’s rejected, Canada will still produce the oil and it will be sold to China, he said.
“Yet the president is saying ‘no’ to the Keystone XL pipeline; he’s saying ‘no’ to a project that will bring more than 700,000 barrels of oil a day from our friend and ally, Canada, and he’s virtually assuring continued reliance on the Middle East,” Hoeven said. “That makes no sense, and it’s a matter of great concern for our national security, particularly with what’s going on in Iran.”
The State Department in November delayed a decision on granting a construction permit for Keystone, citing concerns about the potential environmental impact on fragile areas of Nebraska.
Last month Obama signed into law a two-month extension of the payroll tax-ut bill that contained a section pushed by congressional Republicans that requires the president to decide by Feb. 21 whether the pipeline should be approved. The State Department has said that doesn’t allow sufficient time to evaluate the project.
Hoeven cited news reports saying that the Keystone XL pipeline project “isn’t on the president’s agenda before” the 2012 election,” which he called “unfortunate, because it is private-sector projects like Keystone XL-and the hundreds of others cited by the U.S. Chamber study-that will get our nation working again.”
Labor unions support the project for the jobs it would create, while environmental group oppose it, because of the potential ecological damage. Obama risks the loss of support from either group in making a decision.
“It’s hard to imagine a project that is more in the national interest and the interest of the American people,” Hoeven said.