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Obama begins swing-state tour with push for manufacturing jobs

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PHOENIX — President Obama got to work selling his State of the Union economic proposals to the public Wednesday, beginning a five-state tour to urge that manufacturing jobs be brought back from overseas.

In visits to factories in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Phoenix, Obama called on Congress to eliminate tax loopholes that encourage companies to send jobs abroad and impose a minimum tax rate on multinational firms.

“We are as competitive as we’ve ever been,” he said at the Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids. “And for a lot of these companies, it’s starting to make a lot of sense to bring jobs back home. We must seize the opportunity.”

But the president’s proposals were met with resistance from industry representatives who said that such restrictions would make American companies less competitive globally.

“The point of companies locating overseas is to get close to their customers,” said Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “Now you’re putting these artificial handcuffs on companies.”

During his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Obama said his “blueprint” for a stronger economy begins with manufacturing, a message aimed at the Rust Belt voters who helped him win the White House in 2008 but who have been among the most dissatisfied with the sluggish economic recovery.

The president’s three-day trip will also take him to the battleground states of Nevada, Colorado and Michigan. In 2008, Obama carried each of those states but not Arizona. Now this state’s growing Hispanic population has convinced the president’s campaign team that it is ripe for a potential upset.

Among half a dozen proposals to restructure the corporate tax system, administration officials said Obama aims to offer a 20 percent tax credit to companies for the costs of moving jobs back to the United States.

The administration also wants to discourage companies from shifting profits overseas in search of lower tax rates by requiring multinational corporations to pay a minimum tax rate, a proposal that would produce an estimated $23 billion in new revenue, administration officials said.

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