BREAKING NEWS: Obama breaks no new ground in speech

DeWayne Bartels
President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One at the Air National Guard 182nd Airlift Wing at the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport Thursday afternoon. Obama was joined on the flight by steps off airplane, along with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Caterpillar Inc. President Jim Owens.

President Barack Obama delivered a short speech this afternoon at Caterpillar’s Building HH that broke no new ground in his quest for passage of an economic stimulus bill.

Obama, before launching into his speech did a little political arm-twisting aimed at freshman U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-18th District).

“Aaron’s still trying to make up his mind about our recovery package,” Obama said.

“He has a chance to be in the mold of Bob Michel and Ray LaHood.”

Obama suggested to those in attendance they talk to Schock and convince him to do what the president said is “the right thing.”

Then Obama launched into praise for Caterpillar chairman Jim Owens, who was recently tapped for a post in Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Owens, Obama said, is facing tough choices.

“He cares about the long-term, not just the short-term,” Obama said.

Obama then turned his attention to the national economic picture. He said the nation has lot 3.6 million jobs  since the economic crisis began, nearly 600,000 in the last month alone.

“This isn’t about figures on a balance sheet,” Obama said. “It’s about families ... It’s about ripple effects across this community.”

He said what is happening at Caterpillar with the announcement that 22,000 jobs would be lost, just after the announcement of a record year in 2008, reflects what is happening across the nation.

“These layoffs are an urgent signal for the country,” Obama said.

“In short, it means we are standing still ... Standing still is not an option.”

Obama said his plan will create or retain 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, if passed by the Congress.

“It will ignite spending by individuals and businesses,” Obama said.

Obama said the plan has been the subject of great debate in Washington, D.C., and that debate is healthy.

But, he said, the debate is coming to an end. “It is time for Congress to act, and, I hope, in a bipartisan manner.”

Obama said the stimulus package is needed to ignite the economy and to restore dignity to scores of Americans.

“Americans don’t want a hand-out,” he said. “They want to work.”

The politics has to stop, he added, so that credit can begin flowing and jobs can be created, then Obama said, the federal government has to learn to live within its means.

“The road ahead is not an easy one,” Obama said. But, he said, the road has to be followed to return America to the promise the future holds.