WHITE HOUSE — President Barack Obama began a series of trips on Wednesday to win support for the economic plan he laid out Tuesday in his State of the Union address. The president launched this campaign with a factory tour in Asheville, North Carolina.
Obama visited a former Volvo Co. plant that reopened when it was bought by Canadian-based Linamar Corporation, which rehired some of its workers.
“They were looking for a place to build some big parts. And these parts are big, I got to say. Hubs and wheels and anchors for 400-ton mining trucks. And while they could have gone anyplace in the world, they saw this incredible potential right here in Asheville,” said the president.
Obama went to North Carolina to promote his economic initiatives, including bigger incentives for companies to create jobs in the United States.
“I believe we attract new jobs to America by investing in new sources of energy and new infrastructure, and the next generation of high-wage, high-tech American manufacturing. I believe in manufacturing,” he said.
The president said the U.S. can speed its economic recovery by bringing more jobs to the country, giving Americans the skills to perform those jobs, and paying those workers a decent living.
Obama is calling for an increase in the federally mandated minimum wage for workers, from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour.
“How do we make sure that once they have a job, it leads to a decent living? I believe we reward effort and determination with wages that allow working families to raise their kids and get ahead,” he said.
Opposition Republicans in Congress say raising the minimum wage would discourage job growth by making it more expensive for companies to hire workers.
The president’s economic initiative centers around increased spending on education, from early childhood to college, as well as government support for manufacturing, new infrastructure and new sources of energy.
In his response to Obama’s speech Tuesday night, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the plan relies too heavily on government spending.
“More government is not going to help you get ahead. It is going to hold you back. More government is not going to create more opportunities. It is going to limit them. And more government is not going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs. It is going to create uncertainty,” said Rubio.
The president is starting three “manufacturing innovation institutes,” in which the government, businesses and colleges work together to help U.S.-based companies create jobs. He is asking Congress to create 15 more institutes.
Obama’s campaign for his agenda will include visits to Decatur, Georgia, on Thursday and Chicago on Friday.