LORDSTOWN (Ohio): President Barack Obama promised struggling autoworkers on Tuesday he was committed to rebuilding a thriving US auto industry and said the world’s largest economy was on the mend.
“It’s going to take some time to achieve a complete recovery,” Obama said during a visit to General Motors Co’s sprawling Lordstown plant in Ohio.
But Obama, who took office on Jan 20 after eight years of the Bush administration, said his policies had stopped a freefall in the economy and “helped us turn the corner.”
The fate of the Lordstown plant has been up in the air for much of the past decade but lately it has become the centerpiece of GM’s effort to build more fuel-efficient vehicles and change its image as a producer of gas-guzzlers.
“We’re going to rebuild,” Obama said in a campaign-style speech to the unionized workers who are an important part of his political base.
Later, visiting Pittsburgh, another part of the US industrial heartland hit hard by economic woes, Obama pitched his plan to extend health coverage to the uninsured before a raucous crowd at the AFL-CIO labour federation’s convention.
“When are we going to say enough is enough?” Obama said. “Now is the time to deliver on healthcare reform.”
“We can’t wait,” the workers chanted back. They reserved their loudest applause for Obama’s call for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organise.
Obama will return to Pittsburgh next week to host the Group of 20 leaders of the biggest industrialised and developing economies.
Trade frictions with China are likely to be on display at the summit after the United States last week imposed new duties on Chinese tires. Obama did not mention the tire decision at either the auto plant or AFL-CIO speeches, although the move is popular with many union workers. – Reuters
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