- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama Friday afternoon visited a factory in economically strapped Ohio to offer a pitch for the energy element of his proposed stimulus plan, making the sale as he prepared for an inaugural celebration weekend to span several states.

“The way I see it, the first job of my Administration is to put people back to work and get our economy working again,” Mr. Obama, a Democrat, told employees of the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company in Bedford.

Mr. Obama made his remarks after touring the plant, which manufactures parts used in wind turbines.

He said “dramatic” action is needed, selling his $825 billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.”

He said energy efficiency is a key element of his plan, and believes that American innovation in this field will create jobs and can spark economic recovery.

Mr. Obama said he aims to double the production of renewable energy over three years and modernize three-quarters of federal buildings and improve energy efficiency in more than 2 million homes.

He wants to put people to work building wind turbines and solar panels and more fuel efficient cars.

“If anyone doubts that we can dig ourselves out of this hole, I invite them to come here to Ohio and look what you’ve done at Cardinal Fastener,” he said. “I know it hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been without risk. But you’ve set your sights on the future, and you haven’t looked back. In an economy that’s losing jobs, you’re creating them. And they’re the kind of jobs that don’t just support families and sustain communities - but also help transform our economy, spurring growth not just today, but for decades to come.”

He outlined the record number of job losses, saying the need for action “has never been more urgent” and said the jobs in his plan will be more than just jobs.

“We’re looking to create good jobs that pay well and won’t be shipped overseas. Jobs that dont just put people to work in the short-term, but position our economy to be on the cutting edge in the long-term,” he said.

Mr. Obama said that many companies have transformed from old economies to become “clean energy” producers.

He said Spain, Germany and Japan are surging ahead of the United States because their governments have invested in renewable energy.

“There is no reason we cant do the same thing right here in America,” he said.

Mr. Obama also touted the other elements of his plan: bringing broadband to rural areas, modernizing health care, expanding technology in the classroom and rebuilding roads and bridges and school facilities.

He noted his administration will offer extensions of unemployment insurance and health care coverage and tax cuts for most families.

Before the speech, Mr. Obama donned safety goggles for a 20-minute factory tour with President John Grabner.

“You guys are doing a great job,” he told the workers.

Mr. Obama and his family will do a whistle stop train tour on Saturday, beginning with an event in Philadelphia. The group, with reporters and photographers in tow, will then head to Wilmington, Delaware to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family before the group heads to Baltimore.

Sunday begins the inaugural festivities in Washington with a star-studded free concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

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