Obama Vows To Create Jobs
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
And I'm Melissa Block. It was bit of deja-vu. Today, a politician toured a factory that makes bolts and fasteners for wind turbines, and he talked about his vision for economic recovery and alternative energy. This sort of event used to happen every week during the presidential campaign, but today it was President-elect Barack Obama, four days away from taking the oath of office. NPR's Don Gonyea traveled with Mr. Obama to the Cleveland area.
DON GONYEA: This trip to a hard-hit city in what is so often referred to as America's rustbelt is symbolic, meant to send a message to American workers that the new president understands and is going to work hard to turn things around. But it's also practical. This plant, called Cardinal Fasteners, is a parts supplier to the wind-turbine industry. It's a 25-year-old business, but it got into the alternative-energy side of things two years back. At the time, it employed 50 workers. Today, it has 65. Mr. Obama said it represents the potential for job growth that exists if America invests in renewable energy.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE, JANUARY 16, 2009)
BARACK OBAMA: The story of this company - which began building wind-turbine parts just two years ago and is now poised to make half its earnings that way - is that renewable energy isn't something pie-in-the-sky. It's not part of a far-off future. It's happening all across America right now. It's providing alternatives to foreign oil right now.
GONYEA: But the president-elect said that companies such as this one will step up only if there is an opportunity and if the government makes the needed commitment to invest in such technologies.
OBAMA: If we don't act now, because of the economic downturn, half of the wind projects planned for 2009 could end up being abandoned. Credit markets have frozen up. It's very difficult, because of the capital-intensive nature of these projects, for them to move forward if they can't get loans, if they can't get access to credit. And think about that; think about all the businesses that won't come to be, all the jobs that wouldn't be created, all the clean energy that we wouldn't produce.
GONYEA: The president-elect said he was pleased to see that the Congress is moving ahead already on shaping a massive economic stimulus plan, totaling some $825 billion in new spending and tax cuts. He promised the creation of 400,000 new jobs rebuilding the nation's infrastructure. But he also said he recognized that there are people who are in crisis right now and need immediate help. To that end, he pledged to find bipartisan backing for extended jobless benefits and health-care coverage, tax cuts for 95 percent of working families, and he pledged to aid states to help them avoid having to slash budgets for services like police, fire, education and health care.
OBAMA: Given the magnitude of these challenges, none of this is going to come easy. Recovery is not going to happen overnight. It's likely that even with the reinvestment package that we're putting forward, even with the measures that we're taking, things could get worse before they get better. I want everybody to be realistic about this.
GONYEA: These are President-elect Obama's final days before he moves into the White House. The economic crisis has made this an unusually busy transition period for an incoming U.S. president. This weekend, the inaugural festivities kick into high gear with a whistle-stop train tour Saturday, with Vice President-elect Joe Biden traveling from Philadelphia down to Washington. The real work for Mr. Obama starts Tuesday at noon. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Cleveland.
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