The Washington Post

Obama praises Boeing for hiring thousands to meet export demand

Boeing Co. employees assemble a 787 Dreamliner jet for Air India at the company's manufacturing facility in Everett, Wash., on Tuesday. (Ron Wurzer/BLOOMBERG)

EVERETT, Wash. — With one of the company’s state-of-the-art jetliners parked beside him, President Obama on Friday hailed Boeing as an example of resurgent American manufacturing, pressing his economic message that increasing exports abroad can boost job creation at home.

Obama paid a visit to a Boeing facility that remains, at 4.3 million square feet, the world’s largest building to give symbolic heft to his call for tax breaks for companies that relocate jobs from overseas. The president took the stage with a high-production flourish, emerging from the rear cabin of a new 787 Dreamliner and bounding down a set of red-colored stairs to his lectern as a crowd of workers cheered and snapped photos.

Citing renewed demand for commercial aircraft that helped boost orders at the company by more than 50 percent last year, Obama said Boeing hired 13,000 workers to fill the need.

“This company is a great example of what American manufacturing can do in the way nobody else in the world can do,” the president told the crowd. “Every Dreamliner that rolls off the assembly line here in Everett supports thousands of jobs in different industries all across the country.”

Obama’s stop here came on the final day of a three-day roadtrip that began with an appearance at a Master Lock factory in Milwaukee, where he also highlighted manufacturing growth in a key electoral battleground state. In between, the president held a series of fundraisers in California for his reelection campaign.

Manufacturing is a pillar of Obama’s State of the Union agenda to build a stronger, more equitable economy that provides security for the middle class. But economists have cautioned that the administration’s activist approach could create conflicts among American industries, with some coming out ahead but others suffering as a result.

The White House has been quick to highlight Boeing’s success as an example of what works. Last fall, during Obama’s trip to Bali, Indonesia, for a regional summit, the administration announced a $21.7 billion deal for the company to sell 240 airplanes to Lion Air of Indonesia. Boeing’s Chief Executive W. James McNerney Jr. chairs Obama’s export advisory panel.

In his remarks, Obama renewed his call for tax breaks for companies that return jobs from overseas, an idea contained in this 2013 budget proposal that would require approval from Congress. He played into themes of American exceptionalism, harkening to the country’s manufacturing heyday and insisting that such days are not behind the United States.

Last month, the country created 50,000 new manufacturing jobs, according to the Labor Department, giving a boost to a president whose job approval ratings have improved as public confidence in the economy has brightened.

“It’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China,” Obama said. “Meanwhile, America is more productive. And companies like Boeing are finding out that even when we can’t make things faster or cheaper than China, we can make things better.”

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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