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.
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