President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to advance his plan to increase U.S. exports, after a week of upbeat news about the nation’s economy. The president spoke Friday, at the end of a three-day fundraising trip to the Western United States.
President Obama spoke to workers in the gigantic Boeing airplane assembly plant near the northwestern city of Seattle, Washington. He emerged from one of the newly-built Boeing jetliners being sold to overseas airlines, to promote his goal to boost exports.
“The Dreamliner is the plane of the future. And by building it here, Boeing is taking advantage of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring more jobs and manufacturing back to the United States of America,” he said.
Mr. Obama said the U.S. is ahead of schedule toward meeting the goal he set three years ago of doubling American exports by 2014.
To speed that progress, he called on lawmakers to pass his plan to reform the nation’s tax code, ending tax breaks for businesses that move jobs overseas and rewarding companies that create jobs in the U.S.
The president also urged Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, the government’s export credit agency. He said the bank is starting a program to help subsidize small U.S. businesses’ efforts to increase their exports.
He mentioned the bank’s role in helping Boeing sell 230 planes to the Indonesian airline Lion Air last year, a deal worth more than $22 billion. It was the company’s biggest order ever.
Mr. Obama spoke as his annual economic report was being delivered to Congress. The report says the economy has been expanding for two-and-a-half years, but not quickly enough to recover the jobs lost in the recession that began in 2007.
Nonetheless, the president told workers at Boeing there are encouraging signs that the economic recovery is accelerating.
“The tide is beginning to turn our way," he said. "Over the last 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs. And American manufacturers are hiring for the first time since 1990. And the American auto industry is back. And our economy is getting stronger.”
The president’s remarks followed a week of positive economic news. On Friday, Congress passed a one-year extension of the nation’s payroll tax cut. Mr. Obama said lawmakers did the right thing.
“Congress also agreed to extend unemployment insurance for millions of Americans-maybe some of your family members - who are still out there looking for a job," he said. "So I am going to sign this bill right away when I get back home.”
Also this week, the Labor Department said the number of Americans signing up for unemployment assistance has fallen to a four-year low.
And General Motors announced that its 2011 profit reached a record $7.6 billion, just two years after bankruptcy and a government bailout.
The president’s appearance at Boeing concluded a three-day trip to the West Coast, much of which was spent at fundraising events for his re-election campaign.