Obama Meets With Hardhats in the Rust Belt

President pitches economic plan to blue-collar workers in Ohio, Pa.

President Obama took his road show to the rust belt Tuesday, stopping at a GM plant in Ohio and a labor event in Pittsburgh to say his health care reforms will give the economic recovery a big boost.

"When organized labor succeeds, that's when our middle class succeeds, and when our middle class succeeds, that's when America succeeds, and that's what we are fighting for," Obama told an AFL-CIO gathering in Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon.

Obama used both events to champion the working man, bash Wall Street and frame his health care reform proposal as crucial to the nascent economic recovery.
"I know too many people who are still looking for work or worrying they will be the next one to go," Obama said, noting that unemployment remains at an "unacceptable" level. "But we stopped our economic freefall."

He said his health plan, with a public option for coverage, would help drive down costs for companies while providing security to workers.
"In thhe United States, nobody should go broke just because they got sick," he said to wild applause.

Earlier, speaking to autoworkers at the Lordstown GM assembly plant near Youngstown, Obama said better times are alreadyin sight.

"Because of the steps we've taken, this plant is about to shift into high gear," Obama said in the late morning speech.

Obama said the bailouts of GM and Chrysler were necessary, but that he looks forward to the government divesting itself from the car industry.

"I didn't run for president to manage auto companies," Obama said. "I like driving cars. Sometimes I can change a spark plug. But I don't know enough about cars to want to get deeply involved in the auto industry."

The federal government currently owns 62% of GM, but hopes to pull out and convert its stake to publicly held stock to be sold sometime next year.

"We've still got a lot of work to do," he said. "We're in a deep hole. It's going to take a couple of years to get out of this hole."

Get more: The Associated Press

Contact Us