President Obama acknowledged on Wednesday that many jobs that have been taken overseas “are not going to come back.” But, visiting a Milwaukee plant that did bring some of its jobs back to the United States, he pledged to fight for tax and trade policies that will encourage more American companies to “insource” their jobs and employ more workers domestically.
“Too many jobs that provided a decent living got shipped overseas,” he said at the Master Lock factory on the first stop of a three-day trip. “And now the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs are not going to come back. In a global economy, some companies are always going to find it more profitable to pick up and do business in other parts of the world.” But, he added, “that doesn’t mean we have to just sit by and settle for a lesser future. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to create new jobs and restore middle-class security in America.”
He cautiously welcomed progress in getting Congress to extend the payroll-tax cut, but described that as “only a start” to helping the economy. Still needed, he said, are several tax changes that he called for in his State of the Union address and included in his just-released budget for the next fiscal year. He lamented that companies get tax breaks for moving jobs overseas while “companies that are doing the right thing and choosing to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.”
This, he said, “makes no sense, and everybody knows it.” He added, “Politicians of both parties have been talking about changing it for years. So my message to Congress is this: Don’t wait. Get it done. Do it now. Let’s get it done.” He also called for a basic minimum tax on multinational companies operating overseas and a bigger tax cut for American manufacturers. “It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America,” he said. “This Congress should send me these tax reforms. I will sign them right away.”
While parts of his current trip are political and involve fundraising for his reelection campaign, this stop is official. Helping make that point, the president was greeted at the Milwaukee airport by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whose policies restraining union power have been criticized by the president. Walker did not accompany Obama to the plant, though, citing “stomach flu.” The governor insisted to reporters that his absence at the plant was not a political statement. “If it was politics,” he said, “I wouldn’t have greeted him here.”