President Barack Obama signed a bill Wednesday extending the authorization of the U.S. Export-Import bank, a measure aimed at boosting the economy.
Speaking at a ceremony in the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Obama said the bill, which will aid U.S. businesses who are seeking to export their products around the world and do business overseas, is a model of the kinds of common-sense legislation Congress should be working on to boost the sluggish economy.
"We've got to be a nation that produces, a nation that sells," Obama said. "Our middle class was created by workers who made and sold the best products in the world. Our communities and our economy have always done better when we shipped more goods than anybody else, stamped with that phrase: 'Made in America.'"
He added, "I want us to be that nation again. I want us to be that nation in perpetuity."
Obama said exports will play a key role in rebuilding the economy for the future, specifically citing recent trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama.
"I'm going to go anywhere I can in the world to create new markets for American goods," he said. "And we're also not going to stand by when our competitors aren't following the rules. … We've set up a Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair trade practices that are taking place anyplace -- anywhere in the world."
He added, "Anytime other countries skirt the rules or put our workers and our businesses in an unfair position, we're going to take action."
But more needs to be done, Obama said, noting that he has been offering Congress a "to do" list of projects that could be enacted quickly on a bipartisan basis.
"Just like the bill I'm about to sign, those policies can help strengthen the economy and put more folks back to work," he said. "We shouldn't have to wait until an election to do some of this business."
Obama reiterated his call for Congress to close a tax loophole that many believe rewards companies that ship jobs overseas.
"We are more competitive than ever. Our workers are more productive than ever," he said. "We want to help provide incentives for folks to make those decisions."
He added, "It's time for Congress to take tax breaks away that allow for deductions moving jobs overseas and instead cover moving expenses for companies that are interested in bringing jobs back to America."
Obama also urged Congress to enact incentives for homeowners seeking to refinance their mortgages and offer tax breaks to small businesses that extend their payrolls by hiring more workers.
"Fourth, Congress should extend the tax credits for clean energy companies that are set to expire at the end of the year," he said. "These companies are putting folks back to work and they're helping us break our dependence on foreign oil."
He added, "There are members, again, of both parties that support these tax credits. And tens of thousands of jobs are at stake. So I think it's very important for us to make sure that we move forward on that."
Finally, Obama encouraged private sector companies to hire more veterans of the nation's conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and urged Congress to enact a job bank for Veterans to help them find employment.
"Our veterans are some of the most highly-trained, highly-educated, highly-skilled workers we've got," he said. "We've got to make sure when they come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities."
He added, "There are a number of things that my administration can do on our own and we're going to keep on doing them, but it gets a whole lot easier if we get some help from Congress."
Obama cautioned that the nation's economic recovery still faces headwinds and hurdles that must be overcome and that a full recovery will be slower than most would like.
"But there are plenty of things we can control. And there are plenty of solutions within our reach," he said. "There are steps that we can take right now to speed up this recovery, to help create jobs, to restore some of the financial security that families have lost."
He added, "We've got more work to do. I hope this ends up being a model for the kind of progress that we can make in the months to come and the years to come."
by RTT Staff Writer
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