Feb 14, 2013 No Comments ›› Chuck Biscuits
Excerpted from The Hill: President Obama took his State of the Union proposals on the road Wednesday, beginning a three-day tour in Asheville, N.C., by positioning himself as the champion of a U.S. manufacturing revival.
Speaking at an auto parts plant reinvigorated by a Canadian investor, Obama argued policies he announced Tuesday would help the U.S. maintain its status as the world’s largest manufacturer while accelerating an economic recovery for the middle class.
“I believe in manufacturing,” Obama said at a campaign-style event, appearing without a jacket and with his sleeves rolled up. “I believe it makes our country stronger.”
The hope among Obama allies is that his barnstorming trip — which includes stops in Atlanta and Chicago later in the week that will also focus on the economy — will create political momentum and a favorable political narrative for his manufacturing push.
Obama can fund three of the manufacturing centers on his own with funds under his control, but would need Congress to act to fund the other 12 he proposes creating.
If Congress does not act, Obama will position himself to argue that Republicans in Congress are holding up his effort to backstop U.S. manufacturers.
Republicans argue Obama’s regulatory policies and support for higher individual taxes has hurt the manufacturing sector.
And while manufacturing groups are pleased with Obama’s focus, a top industry source said there is concern about tax increases that could affect small-business owners. Other business leaders feared that the president’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour could ripple throughout the economy.
“A minimum wage hike right now would be one more factor driving up costs for employers and creating headwinds for job creation, especially among the small businesses that create most of our nation’s new jobs,” David French, the National Retail Federation’s senior vice president for government relations, said in a statement.
William Galston, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said basic ideological obstacles stand in the way for Obama.
“Anything that smacks of big government is going to cause instant resistance,” Galston said. “He may be able to overcome the negative propensity in some respects, but I doubt in all respects. He’ll get some of his agenda but certainly not all of it.”
Galston also warned the real-world implications of Obama’s executive actions were likely to be minimal.
“I hope the White House doesn’t overplay its hand here,” he said. “You can only do relatively modest actions through executive action.”