Obama: Next Century Can Be ‘Another American Century’

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has highlighted the importance of American manufacturing in revitalizing the economy.

President Obama visited an aerospace supply plant in the central U.S. state of Iowa Tuesday, telling workers the United States can make the next century, in his words, “another American century.”

The president said the U.S. is facing some tough times and warned that the country's economic problems will not go away quickly. But he said smart investments in education and manufacturing can help create jobs and increase wages.

Mr. Obama said the Iowa facility is an example of what U.S. workers and companies can do.

The facility belongs to Alcoa, one of the world's leading producers of aluminum products. It employs 2,000 people, producing high-tech parts for Airbus and Boeing, the world's biggest airplane makers.

About a quarter of the revenue generated by the facility comes from exports.

President Obama's economic policies have come under increased scrutiny in recent months as the nation's unemployment rate has edged higher, to more than 9 percent, and data on the economy continues to be mixed.

Reports released Tuesday show U.S. housing prices going up and consumer confidence falling.

The S & P / Case-Shiller home price index showed a gain in April, the first monthly increase in nine months. But prices are still lower than they were at this time last year.

The troubled housing market is one reason U.S. consumers are growing more pessimistic. Consumer confidence declined in June to its lowest level since November.

Economists track consumer confidence for hints about the consumer spending that drives most U.S. economic activity.

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly over the last several weeks that a rebuilt and revitalized U.S. manufacturing sector is critical for a healthy U.S. economy. He has also unveiled several programs designed to train workers in advanced manufacturing techniques.

One of those programs is a new partnership that joins governmental, university and corporate interests. It will seek to quickly transform ideas into useful products, helping to create quality jobs and make U.S. businesses more competitive.

Aides to President Obama said Tuesday's visit to the Alcoa facility was intended to focus on how the U.S. manufacturing sector is rebounding following the recession.

But the plant is also located in the state that plays a key role in U.S. politics, as Iowa begins the political party nominating process with caucuses that are now set for February. Republican contenders have been visiting the state in an effort to build support for their 2012 presidential bids.