Says Auto Industry was Built on the "Backs of the Middle Class"

Obama: Stimulus Saved Auto Industry

By Peter Neumann
By Scott Sarvay
By Max Resnik

November 23, 2010 Updated Nov 23, 2010 at 6:59 PM EDT

KOKOMO, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- President Barack Obama made a quick in-and-out trip to Kokomo today, where he proudly defended his economic stimulus plan.

His visit to the auto-industry dependent city came on the day when the state released its unemployment data for October, that pegged Howard County (Kokomo) at 10.9%.

The President says it was the economic stimulus for the auto industry that let him be in a plant that otherwise might have been shut down. He said "Don't bet against the American auto industry." But he acknowledged there is still a lot of work to be done to repair the economy.

To that end, he challenge Congress to put aside partisan differences and to work together.

Kokomo was among the hardest hit Indiana communities during the economic slowdown where the jobs picture has brightened in the last year.

Kokomo has been one of the most economically hard-hit cities in Indiana. With new investments in the auto industry and advanced manufacturing, Kokomo’s unemployment rate has fallen by almost 8 percent since mid-2009.

Absent from the event was Indiana Republican Governor Mitch Daniels, who had a speaking engagement elsewhere.

The restructured Chrysler Group has invested $343 million to modernize its Kokomo transmission plant, and Delphi Automotive is using an $89 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to expand its capacity for manufacturing hybrid vehicle components.

The President briefly touched on taxes noting that the Bush Tax Cuts expire at the end of the year. He said that taxes should not increase on the middle class. He also commented that it was in fact the middle class who built the auto industry. The President did say though, that those at the top, millionaire and billionaires, should still face a tax increase.

It was a friendly crowd. Labor unions are central to Kokomo's workforce, and supported Obama in his presidential campaign. Kokomo's economic recovery certainly tells one of the better stimulus stories out there.

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