President Barack Obama accused Republicans in Congress of blocking initiatives to bolster economic growth and warned that the U.S. will lose jobs unless lawmakers extend clean-energy tax breaks.
Obama used the backdrop of TPI Composites, which makes structural components for wind-powered generators and employs about 700 workers in Newton, Iowa, to promote his list of economic measures that he wants Congress to act on.
The tax credits have had broad political support, according to the administration, including the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Governors Association. The White House says failure to renew them could cost as many as 37,000 jobs.
“This isn’t just an issue for the wind industry,” Obama said in the text of his remarks. “Some of America’s most prominent companies -- from Starbucks to Campbell’s Soup -- are calling on Congress to act because they use renewable energy.”
The president is making his third visit to Iowa this year after wrapping up four fundraisers in a two-day swing to three states, collecting more than $2.5 million. Iowa is one of nine swing states that was won by Republican George W. Bush in 2004 and switched to Democrat Obama in 2008. Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be competing to take those states in what both parties expect will be a close election in November.
Aiming at Republicans
In the speech at the factory, Obama hit on one of his re-election themes: That Republicans are thwarting his agenda for political purposes.
“They either want to do nothing at all or they want to double down on the same failed policies that got us into this mess,” he said. “We just tried their ideas for nearly a decade and it didn’t work out.”
The tax credit is one of the items on Obama’s agenda that he wants Congress to pass before November.
More than 450 manufacturing companies depend on the production tax credit, said Terry Royer, chief executive of Winergy Drive Systems Corp., which assembles and tests wind turbine gear boxes, in Elgin, Illinois.
“I will tell you, with the uncertainty we’ve already created by not extending this tax credit, my company will be impacted” along with many others, Royer said at a May 22 White House briefing.
About 3 percent of U.S. power came from wind last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The industry is seeking to provide 20 percent by 2030, AWEA said. South Dakota led in terms of total electricity produced at 22.3 percent, followed by Iowa at 18.8 percent.
Obama next heads to Des Moines for a campaign rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, where Romney, co-founder of private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, responded to hecklers last year with the statement “corporations are people, my friend.”
The Obama campaign distributed a video early today mocking the presumptive Republican presidential candidate for the remark.
Romney has accused Obama of attacking free enterprise and of not understanding how the economy works. He has repeatedly said in campaign appearances that Obama is “not up to the task” of guiding the economy.