President Barack Obama visited TPI Composites in Newton, Iowa, on Thursday, May 24, 2012, for a speech addressing energy tax credits and energy policy in Iowa and across the country.
Hello, Iowa! It is so nice to be back in Newton! I just got a great tour of this facility. And I was telling some of the folks – we couldn’t take the helicopters here because the winds were too strong. So you are definitely in the right business.
Thank you, Quinten, for that introduction and for sharing your story. Thank you, Mayor Allen, for welcoming us today. I want to also thank Representative Dave Loebsack for being here. And I want to point out someone you know pretty well – my outstanding Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. As Governor, Tom was instrumental in helping transform Newton into the city that it is today. And he’s still got your back – he’s still fighting every day for everyone here and for every rural community in America.
We all know how difficult these past few years have been for this country. After the worst recession of our lifetimes, it’s going to take some time for the economy to fully recover. More time than any of us would like. And we’re still facing some headwinds, like the situation in Europe. But while there are certain economic developments we can’t fully control, there are plenty of things we can control. There are plenty of steps we can take – steps that we must take right now – to speed up this recovery; to help create jobs; and to restore some of the financial security that so many families have lost. It’s within our control to do all of that right now.
But here’s the thing: too many of my Republican friends in Congress are standing in the way. They either want to do nothing at all or they want to double down on the same failed policies that got us into this mess. They want to cut more taxes – especially for the wealthiest Americans. They want to cut back more of the rules we put in place for banks and financial institutions. They want to wait for the housing market to hit bottom, and just hope for the best.
That doesn’t make sense. We just tried their ideas for nearly a decade and it didn’t work out. Instead, we have to move forward. We have to build an economy where hard work and responsibility are rewarded – where you can find a good job, own your own home, maybe start a businesses, and give your kids the chance to do even better.
That’s where we need to go. And I’ve been pushing Congress to help us get there by passing a few common-sense policies that will strengthen the economy and put more folks to work. We even made a handy “To-Do” list that they can check off – just like the kind I get from Michelle. There are only five things on it – I wouldn’t want to overload Congress with too much at once. But they’re ideas that will make a difference – right now – and we shouldn’t need to wait for an election to get them done.
First up on the list – It makes absolutely no sense that we actually give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs and factories overseas. No sense at all. It’s time for Congress to end the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and use that money to cover moving expenses for companies that bring jobs back to America.
Second, Congress should give every responsible homeowner the opportunity to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage. Two weeks ago I was with a family in Reno, Nevada, who got a chance to refinance because of steps that my Administration took last fall. Refinancing made a big difference for them and we want all families to have the same shot.
Third, instead of just talking about job creators, Congress should help the small business owners who create most of the new jobs in America. Let’s give them a tax break for hiring more workers and paying them higher wages.
Fourth, Congress should create a Veterans Job Corps so that we help communities across America put our returning heroes to work as cops, firefighters and park rangers; because no one who fights for this country overseas should have to fight for a job when they come back home.
Now, the fifth thing on the “To-Do” list is why I’m here today. I’m calling on Congress to extend tax credits that are set to expire at the end of the year for clean energy companies like this one. Let’s not wait. Let’s do it now.
Shortly after I took office, I came to Newton and unveiled an all-of-the-above energy strategy for America – a strategy to produce more oil and gas, but also more biofuels and fuel-efficient cars; more solar and wind power and other sources of clean renewable energy. And I came here because Newton is helping to lead the way when it comes to building wind turbines.
Since then, our dependence on foreign oil has gone down every year that I’ve been in office. America is now producing more domestic oil than at any time in the last eight years. But we’re also producing more natural gas and biofuels than at any time in our history. We’re laying the foundation for some of our nation’s first offshore wind farms. And since I became President, America has nearly doubled the use of renewable energy like solar power and wind power.
So this country is on a path towards energy independence. And, in the process, we’re putting thousands of Americans back to work; because the more that we rely on American-made energy – and the less oil we buy from other countries – the more jobs we create at home. It’s that simple.
Take the wind industry, which is so important to Iowa. This industry – thanks in large part to some important tax credits – has taken off. The state of Iowa now gets nearly 20 percent of all its electricity from wind. And overall, America now has enough wind capacity to power 10 million homes. So this is an industry on the rise. And it’s an industry that’s putting people to work. You know that firsthand. There are more wind power jobs in this state than any other.
A modern wind turbine has more than 8,000 different parts - everything from towers and blades to gears and electrical switches. It used to be that almost all of those parts were imported. But today, more and more are being made right here in America. We used to have just a few dozen manufacturing facilities attached to the wind industry. Today we have nearly 500 facilities in 43 states that are employing tens of thousands of American workers. Tens of thousands.
So we’re making progress. But I’m here today because that progress is in jeopardy. If Congress doesn’t act, those tax credits I mentioned – the ones that helped to build up the wind industry and bring it here to Newton – will expire. If Congress doesn’t act, companies like this one will take a hit. Jobs will be lost. That’s not a guess. That’s a fact. And we can’t let that happen. We can’t walk away from these jobs. Congress should extend these tax credits, and they should do it now.
Every day they don’t act, businesses grow more concerned about these tax credits drying up. They’re worried demand for their products is going to fall. So they start thinking twice about expanding. They start becoming more cautious about making new investments here at home and they start looking overseas. One company that had plans to invest $100 million dollars to build a wind manufacturing plant in Arkansas – and create hundreds of jobs – has put those plans on hold.
This makes no sense – and it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. There are several Republican Governors – including the Governor of this state – who are calling on Congress to act. There are Members of Congress in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle – including your two senators – who support these tax credits. That’s not a common thing in Washington these days.
And this isn’t just an issue for the wind industry. Some of America’s most prominent companies – from Starbucks to Campbell’s Soup – are calling on Congress to act because they use renewable energy. And today, I’m asking all of you to get involved and to help us get this done. I need everyone here in Newton and everyone here in Iowa to pick up the phone, send an email, send a tweet, and tell Congress to do the right thing.
Tell Congress the story of Newton. Tell them that this community has come too far to turn back now. Remember, not long ago Newton was better known for building washers and dryers than wind turbines. The big company in town was Maytag. They were a big employer too – putting thousands of folks in this area to work. But then, back in 2007, Maytag closed down its operations here. That was a major blow. Hundreds of jobs were lost. Folks like Quinten were forced to start over. But he didn’t give up. All of you didn’t give up. You kept pushing ahead. And pretty soon after one industry had left town, another one showed up. Some of the facilities that Maytag closed were reopened by a new company. And now a lot of the folks who used to build washers and dryers are building the clean energy products of the future. That’s the story of Newton. And that’s the story of America. We’re facing tough times right now, but we’re getting through them, together. Because in this country, just like in this city, we don’t give up. We keep moving forward. And if we work together with common purpose, I have no doubt we can get this economy back on full throttle and we can remind everyone why it is that the United States is the greatest nation the world has ever known. Thank you. God bless you. God bless America.