By Michael D. Shear
Friday, July 9, 2010; 3:02 PM
LAS VEGAS -- President Obama on Friday urged Congress to pass new tax credits for clean energy companies, arguing that such industries will help the country emerge stronger from the devastating recession of the past two years.
"If an American company wants to create jobs and grow, we should be there to help them do it," Obama told an audience at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. "That's why I'm urging Congress to invest $5 billion more in these kinds of clean energy manufacturing tax credits, more than doubling the amount we made available last year."
The $5 billion would expand on the $2.3 billion in tax credits that the president announced in January for clean energy manufacturing projects.
The president said the investment could create as many as 40,000 additional jobs.
"The private sector -- not government -- is, was, and always will be the source of America's economic success," he said.
Obama also took another opportunity to tout Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is in a tough reelection campaign. On Thursday night, the president helped raise nearly $800,000 at fundraisers.
The following morning, wrapping up his two-day swing through Missouri and Nevada, Obama repeated his praise for Reid.
"He's a fighter, and you should never bet against him. And that's just what we need right now," Obama said. "We need someone who's going to fight for the people of Nevada and for the American people."
With November closing in, Obama has seized on a populist, partisan theme, setting up the election as a choice between the Republican policies he says caused the economic meltdown and his own policies that he argues have spurred a recovery.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.