Missouri Factory and Troops Get a Visit from the Veep
By Michael A. Fletcher
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Vice President Biden told workers at a transformer plant here Thursday that the president's economic plans would not be successful unless they bring about new economic grow that is shared by the middle class.
Speaking to workers at a plant that manufactures electric meters and transformers here, Biden said that the economic stimulus plan and the other economic policies being put in place by the Obama administration must be judged by how they affect the lives of average Americans.
"The measure for us is, for those aspiring to and those in the middle class, when we grow out of the economic doldrum we're in, if we don't raise the standard of living for you all, we haven't succeeded," Biden.
Stumping on behalf of the $787 billion stimulus plan, which he will continue to do in Missouri today at an event with college students, Biden said that the legislation directly led to new work at the 637-employee plant manufacturing transformers for a windmill project that has been revived with stimulus cash.
Biden seemed at home as he toured the ABB Transformer Factory, accompanied by Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.). He asked animated questions as managers led him through the sprawling factory. He also threw his arms around the shoulders of several workers, holding them close and looking them in the eye as he touted the administration's economic policy.
As the workers -- who are represented by the United Auto Workers -- listened approvingly, Biden paid tribute to unions, saying, "the UAW and the union movement have built the middle class of America."
"I always feel good when I have the UAW in front of me, behind me, to my right and to my left," Biden said to rousing applause.
Biden told the workers that they stood at the ground floor of a new economy that will return the nation to sound fiscal principles, shared prosperity and more energy independence.
"This new economy is not going to be built by Wall Street investors," Biden said. "It is going to be built by you."
Earlier in the day, Biden visited Whiteman Air Force Base, home to the nation's B-2 long range bombers. There he pinned a Bronze Star on Sgt. David Townsend, who logged 17,000 miles moving supplies along the treacherous roads of Iraq, enduring numerous attacks from improvised explosive devices.
"That's a lot of worry, man, because, I tell you, we have lost -- as all of you know, and most Americans haven't focused on it -- we have lost literally thousands of Americans," Biden said.
After his remarks, Biden, joined by Skelton, visited with a small group of troops as they ate lunch. Enjoying a bowl of chocolate pudding and a cup of coffee, the vice president engaged them in a wide-ranging conversation. "Are you guys still awed when you see one of those B-2s take off or land?" he asked at one point, before going on to talk about how amazing it is to watch huge cargo planes lumber into the air. "You're a proud unit, man," Biden concluded about those at Whiteman.
The vice president is slated to wrap up his visit to Missouri on today, when he hosts a meeting of the middle-class task force in St. Louis.
Posted at 10:51 AM ET on Apr 17, 2009
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