President Obama urged Michigan factory workers on Thursday to “tell Congress to get past their differences and send me a road construction bill,” along with pending free trade deals and other measures to help spur the economy and create jobs.
He made the remarks at the Johnson Controls-Saft Battery Plant in Holland, Mich., where workers are making high-technology batteries to power electric and hybrid vehicles, aided by state incentives and federal funds.
“There are things we can do right now that will help accelerate growth and job creation,” Obama said. He asked the workers to tell Congress “you’ve had enough of the theatrics
. . . start passing some bills that we all know will help our economy right now.”
Those include legislation to fund transportation infrastructure projects, he said, “so that companies can put tens of thousands of people to work right now building our roads and bridges and airports and seaports.”
Obama in recent weeks has repeatedly urged the passage of an infrastructure bank to fund transport construction, which would be a new agency or account that lends to private investors and other project partners.
His Michigan remarks appeared aimed at reauthorizing the regular transportation programs that are due to expire Sept. 30, and are mainly funded by per-gallon taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.
By urging factory workers to lobby Congress, he follows a playbook he used in the recent debt ceiling negotiations when lawmakers offices were flooded with phone calls after the president called for the public to call in.
Urging the Michigan workers to also press for three trade deals now awaiting action, he said “I want to see billions of dollars’ more products sold around the world stamped with three words: ‘Made in America.’ ”
He also renewed his call to extend a one-year Social Security payroll tax cut that expires in December.
But he hit hard at the infrastructure issue. “America used to have the best stuff -- best roads, best airports, best seaports,” Obama said. “We’re slipping behind because we’re not investing in it, because of politics and gridlock. Do you want to put people to work right now rebuilding America? You’ve got to send that message to Congress.”