President Obama's entire speech at Master Lock
Inside the Master Lock facility where President Obama was set to speak Wednesday. | Photo: Melissa McCrady
Click on the video link to see the entire 25 minute speech made by President Obama at Master Lock.
MILWAUKEE- President Barack Obama called Wednesday for tax cuts for American manufacturers and higher taxes for companies that move overseas, pressing what he hopes will be a winning campaign issue.
Appearing at a Milwaukee padlock plant, Master Lock, Obama said the U.S. must do everything it can to make it more attractive for American businesses to stay put and grow here home, "and the place to start is our tax code."
The president visited Master Lock, a manufacturer that has brought jobs back to the United States. Reprising ideas from his State of the Union address, he asked Congress to approve tax system changes right away, including a minimum tax on multinational companies, so that American firms can't skirt taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. He also pushed for tax breaks for businesses that move into communities that have been hurt by factories leaving town.
"Don't wait. Do it now. Get it done," Obama shouted, his jacket removed and shirtsleeves rolled up, as he stood in front of a pile of stacked orange metal boxes, including one stamped "Made in the USA."
Obama, who is en route to a three-day West Coast fundraising swing, said he decided to visit Master Lock "because this company has been making the most of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring jobs and manufacturing back to America." And he called on other businesses to follow its lead and take advantage of rising costs overseas and growing productivity at home.
Master Lock brought back 100 jobs to the U.S. from China in response to higher labor and logistical costs in Asia.
Pointing to a rebound in manufacturing and pushing U.S. businesses to extend it, the president said: "Ask what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed."
The president made his economic pitch as Congress was poised to advance a key component of the jobs agenda he unveiled last September. Lawmakers from both parties were praising an emerging deal Wednesday on extending a payroll tax cut through the end of the year and renewing jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. They hoped to send the measure to Obama within days.
The extension would be a win for Obama, who has said the cut in the Social Security payroll tax -- amounting to about $40 per paycheck for the average worker -- is vital to keeping the economy on the right path.
"I'm glad to see that Congress is making progress," Obama said. "It will make a real difference in the lives of millions of people and as soon as Congress sends an extension of this tax cut and unemployment insurance to my desk, I will sign it right away."
Obama has repeatedly talked up the nation's manufacturing base as an engine of growth and a sign of a recovering economy. He has urged companies to promote "insourcing," promising new tax incentives for businesses that bring jobs to the U.S. instead of shipping them overseas and eliminating tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.
The manufacturing sector was hard-hit for more than a decade. Manufacturers shed 5.8 million jobs from 1999 to 2009 as many companies shifted jobs overseas to take advantage of lower costs and many plants were modernized and automated, allowing firms to do more with fewer workers.
But the sector has shown more vitality in recent months, bolstering Obama's case. Manufacturers added 50,000 jobs in January, the most in a year, and added 237,000 jobs in 2011, the largest annual boost since 1997. Of the 3.2 million jobs added by the economy since February 2010, about 400,000 are in manufacturing.