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Obama Explores Jobs of Tomorrow

Updated 3:50 p.m.
By Scott Wilson
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- President Obama, in campaign mode, told workers at an Orange County electric-car factory that "it is your ingenuity that will help create the new jobs and new industries of tomorrow."

The visit is part of his push for passage of his $3.6 trillion budget proposal, which would spend $15 billion a year on measures to develop alternative fuels and energy sources.

"The problem is that for decades we've avoided doing what we must do as a nation to turn challenge into opportunity," Obama told the audience of about 150 factory workers, students and public officials.

"As a consequence, we import more oil than we did on 9/11. The 1908 Model T -- think about this -- the 1908 Model T earned better gas mileage than the typical SUV in 2008. Think about that -- a hundred years later and we're getting less gas mileage, not better, on SUVs. Even as our economy has been transformed by new forms of technology, our electric grid looks largely the same as it did half a century ago."

In his remarks, he highlighted the $2.4 billion contained in the recently passed stimulus package to encourage the development of batteries that will power plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The president spent Wednesday in Orange County where the economy grew for years in part on housing development and real estate speculation.

In what is becoming a signature slogan of his sales campaign for the budget -- the essence of his two-day swing through southern California -- Obama told the crowd that the country's "boom to bust" economic cycles must stop.

He has pitched his budget proposals to expand health insurance, spend more on and make changes to public education, and develop alternative energy as necessities to create more stable economic growth.

Congressional Republicans say the budget is too big given the country's miserable economy, debt burden and $1.2 trillion deficit, which Obama inherited from the Bush administration.

Although Orange County is the home of Disneyland, Obama's agenda Thursday in the Los Angeles area seemed more tilted to Tomorrowland. And that's roughly the idea behind his budget -- spend today on programs that will pay off down the road.

On his 15-minute tour the Edison International Garage of the Future in Pomona, he looked over prototypes of Ford electric and alternative fuel vehicles. He asked workers in white lab coats questions about batteries, asking at one point "What's the holy grail?" of the alternative-fuel auto industry.

His reception was enthusiastic, as it has been throughout this trip, with people lining the streets to cheer his passing motorcade.

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 19, 2009; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  Economy , On the Road  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: AIG Bonuses Light a Fire Under Congress
Next: POTUS Events: Back in Washington


I'm not denying that electric cars may be better for the environment, but remember: COAL provides anywhere from 54-57% (depending on the information source) of the electricity in this country. More people plugging up cars means a potential for increased coal usage.

Electric cars AND alternative energy sources? That I'll go along with.

Posted by: gabefig | March 20, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad Obama is pushing for electric cars. We need to try to stop being as dependent on oil. Granted buying an electric car may be a little pricey, the price will go down just like everything does with time. Electric cars being cheaper now would be a great "change" nevertheless! Plus electric cars would help decrease the smog in very polluted areas of the U.S and then perhaps the world.

Posted by: ralphbray | March 19, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

it's been a slice today on WaPO.

i would like to mention, at this time, that I will gladly help the Rahmster with any new job exploration he may need.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 19, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Just think how much further we'd be if it wasn't for GM? As to who almost killed the electric car here's some insight:

Yep back in 1997 toyota had fully electric cars. Killed in 2003 by a lawsuit by Chevron, who inherited the rights to the battery technology when they merged with Texaco who purchased them from, care to guess? Yep GM! Chevron then closed down and dismantled the plant that made these batteries.

I'd say let GM shut down, screw em, they sure screwed us! Oh yea I try not to buy anything from Chevron either.


Posted by: flstfdude | March 19, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

to go electric, so to speak, is a paradiagm shift.
And you know how good Americans are with paradiagm shifts, don't ya???

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 19, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

What's the holy grail?" of the alternative-fuel auto industry.

Ask DaVinci.
Probably linked to that turning water into wine thing.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 19, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"While I am sure there is a 'small' place in society for electric cars, this is, 'fools gold'. How many people are going to be able to afford that $40K GM Volt?"

Remember when CD players cost $1000?

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 19, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Electric cars will allow us to separate our transportation infrastructure from any particular fuel. Whereas today our fleet is bound to two types of oil-based fuel, and bethanybeachdelaware would have us bound to used vegetable oil, recharging electric cars over an electric grid makes the ultimate fuel source irrelevant. No special gas stations, just a plug in your house. As newer/better fuels are introduce, your vehicle is not obsoleted and can take advantage of the new fuel immediately with no conversion cost to you.

That's the most compelling logic for them.

The price will come down as the technology improves.

Posted by: nodebris | March 19, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse


While the manufactured economic crisis effectuates the fleecing of the middle class by the clever plotting of the power elite, and manufactured controversies distract the masses from the root causes of this global transfer of wealth...

...freedom also is being stolen from the people; but the mainstream media "watchdogs" are too busy chasing the manufactured tale of the day to notice who's making off out the back door with the coin of liberty.





* Silent, covert microwave radiation weapons (D.E.W.) assaults on innocent but "targeted" U.S. citizens;

* Terroristic vigilante community gang stalking, surreptitious home entry, police-tolerated vandalism;

* Secret federal "programs of personal financial destruction" that have used the IRS as an ideological tool of "social cleansing."

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 19, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

While I am sure there is a 'small' place in society for electric cars, this is, 'fools gold'. How many people are going to be able to afford that $40K GM Volt?


Respectfully, I beg to differ. While still a ways off from being mainstream, electric cars have already found a niche in some urban areas.

Since they can go around 15 miles on a charge, people who only drive that far back and forth from work are already using them, and charging them at night for the next day. And, existing cars can be upfitted to be eletric only.

here's a link:

I recently spoke to a PR woman at a dealership near me in Bucks County, PA. Casually, she mentioned that electric cars will also grow in popularity as people look for the "next step" beyond hybrids.

As for the 40K Volt - if it costs that much now, it's because it's still in the Early Adoption phase. Just about all new products like this are first only affordable by the rich, who essentially "test" it out. If the people who can afford it like it, it catches on, and the price goes down as more are manufactured.

WVO and biodeisel are also sound ideas, but would we run the chance of running out of that resource if too many people relied on it?

Posted by: jacktheconqueror | March 19, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

While I am sure there is a 'small' place in society for electric cars, this is, 'fools gold'. How many people are going to be able to afford that $40K GM Volt?
If the new 'King' wants to look at alternative fuel powered vehicles, Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) would be something to invest our hard earned borrowed taxed dollars. The technology is in place, we don't have to address environmental concerns regarding what to do with those electric cell batteries when their life expires.
Since WVO is available from most EVERY restaurant with a fryer, seems as though the supply is pretty unlimited.

Posted by: bethanybeachdelaware | March 19, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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