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Obama brings jobs message to Tampa, will announce $8 billion for high-speed rail

By Anne E. Kornblut
TAMPA -- Fresh off his first State of the Union address, President Obama is bringing his reframed message, focused narrowly on jobs, out into the country as he heads Thursday to this Florida city.

White House officials said they had no illusion he would receive a post-address "bounce." Instead they hoped to keep moving attention toward the administration's efforts to improve the national economy.

Obama has abandoned health care as the centerpiece of his agenda since Republicans won a Senate seat in Massachusetts last week. Leaving the solution of that legislative quagmire to Democratic leaders in Congress, the president has turned to issues that many Americans say they prefer. He did not mention health care until more than halfway through his speech on Wednesday night.

In Tampa, Obama and Vice President Biden will meet crew members working on a KC-135 Stratotanker at MacDill Air Force Base. The aircraft handles mid-air refuelings and has recently run missions back and forth to Haiti.

At 12:45 p.m., the two men will conduct a town-hall meeting that is designed as both a postscript to the State of the Union and an opportunity to put Obama in a different setting -- one that is less formal, and more directly tied to the lives of average citizens, than his usual White House appearances.

Florida represents an important swing state that has been hard-hit by foreclosures. But the policy initiative Obama plans to discuss is an $8 billion high-speed rail program, funded by the stimulus package, that will link towns across the country once it is built by local governments. Workers are expected to break ground on the Florida leg of the project soon.

"There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help our nation move goods, services, and information," Obama said in his speech to Congress. "We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it's time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of America."

The passage was typical, if not exactly inspirational.

While delivering snippets of high rhetoric on Wednesday night, Obama did not shift his administration in a new direction or unveil any fresh, sweeping goals. The address reflected the realities of his administration: It has been hemmed in by opposition forces, frustrated voters and its own mistakes, and is still stuck trying to overcome the challenges of his first year in office rather than start new work.

Obama offered a hint of humility in the speech, saying he had suffered "some political setbacks, and some of them were deserved." He said he took his "share of the blame" for not more clearly explaining his stalled health care proposal. And he reminded the audience, at the end of his 71-minute speech, that the beginning of his presidency had been rough.

"We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade," Obama said. But, he said: "A new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit."

By Anne E. Kornblut  |  January 28, 2010; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Economy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Reaction to State of the Union: Obama's pleas draw mixed reviews
Next: Judging success of Obama's speech will require two yardsticks


I have alerted some of my friends who have been jobless for over a year --accountan, electric engineer, architect, customer service rep-- so they can go and get a job working in the railroad. All of them over 50 years old.

Posted by: hdl549 | January 29, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Floridians already have nixed this; it's an absolute boondoggle and will hasten Florida into bankruptcy just like California. No commuter rail in Florida has ever made money; all have had to be subsidized by the taxpayer. Projections don't show the ridership to break even unless the fares are considerably above what most could afford; unless of course, gas goes to $15.00/gallon; then the rail line might come close to breaking if, and only if, there was any reason to commute by rail. Since there are no big employment centers at the Orlando end, it is presumed that tourists would utilize this rail system due to Disney and Universal. But, unfortunately not in the numbers that would make it economically justifiable.

So the Feds will prime pump it and then Florida will have to pick up the pieces in the form of much higher taxes for the next century. Stick this rail line and your union contracts up you butt, Mr. President; sell your snake oil elsewhere.

Posted by: apberusdisvet | January 28, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't think President Obama is to blame for the failure to pass Health Care Reform. Fact of the matter is, the democratically controlled congress is the real culprit. They have majorities in both houses but are letting the minority dictate the agenda. The Democratic Party is undisciplined, disorganized, and the leadership doesn't know how to twist arms and play hard ball with those who don't tow the line. Now, they've lost Massachusettes, and this will only embolden bums like Lieberman. It's not going to get any better until someone establishes some discipline and order in their ranks. They can start by stripping Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. Next focus on defeating that GriffiLth fraud from Alabama, who switched to the Republican Party shortly after winning as a Democratic candidate. A lot of hard work needs to be done to save the New Deal from those who would have this nation without consumer protections, without unions, and without worker's rights.

Posted by: koatz1 | January 28, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

One very important facet to recovery would be to re-write the income tax rules. I love my sports as well as the next person. I was fortunate enough to see such greats as the DiMsggios, Ted Williams, Lou Gherig. That's before the job-hopping, 5 millipn dollar a year job-hoppers, plus the millions from endosements to "wear my shorts". Have the advertising money and athletic sponsorships come from before tax money, not after tax. This will fund much needed money into the treadury rather than the A-rods and the Tebows.

Posted by: tlar1000a | January 28, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Train in Tampa? Does it connect to the "bridge to nowhere?"

Comrade Obama needs to resign and get a real job for the first time since Baskin Robbins near Punahou.

Posted by: rethman | January 28, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Words, words, words, we're so sick of words! Don't talk of agenda, don't talk of health when we retire if there's a fire SHOW ME! (paraphrase seem familiar-think Lerner and Lowe). As one who cheered President Obamma's nomination and election, stood hopefully if cautiously optimistic in his behalf, I thought the speech over long and filled with more of the same ol same ol. President Obama's real challenge is the obstructionist smug opposition, whom in my humble opinion will only be more so after being public chastised from the bully pulpit. IF any group of individuals working in a corporation failed to complete a task after sepending months working on it they would be dismissed-i.e., HEALTH Care Reform. Republicans did as little as possible when they had majority, now in the minority they can only say no to everything including their own goals. It's disgusting and the leadership need arse kicking. Name calling, divisivness and making everything a political campaign sound bite is boorish and must stop,it serves only to further divide the masses and is gravely dangerous. Mr. President, with all DUE respect, you must be more hands on and getting bills passed- it's about the economy stu---OK NOT, still it is now, has been and will forever be about the economy and JOBS - period. Health Care matters little to those who are losing roofs over their heads and wondering how to feed the family.

Posted by: panhermes | January 28, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The only high speed rail plan I want to see in place is a system that carries ex-congresspersons back to their home states at 100 mpg in 2010 and 2012.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | January 28, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Just look at the DC Metro to see how government run transportations works.

Sorry, Odumbo, but we're going to cripple you this fall and then in 2012 send you back to Indonesia where you were born.

Posted by: tjhall1 | January 28, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I watched the whole show and missed the introduction of the shadow cabinet,
when cost control,
participation of lobby groups.
No Mention Of The CZARS

Posted by: RayOne | January 28, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

It was a pitch-perfect speech. Americans are still confident in Obama's leadership, just frustrated with the direction it's headed now. SOTU was a chance to reframe his agenda and prove to the country that he is listening. That message got through remarkably well. Americans are very pleased, but now they want action.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | January 28, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

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