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Alexandria store serves as backdrop for Obama round table

With winter nearly here, President Obama traveled to a Home Depot in Alexandria this morning to tout his proposal that Congress set up incentives for consumers who retrofit their homes to save energy and reduce utility bills.

Obama also promoted the nearly $8 billion in stimulus funds already targeted for such efforts, which are intended to boost hiring in construction and manufacturing - sectors hit hard by the recession - while saving families money and reducing carbon emissions. His plans to expand the program are part of a larger proposal unveiled earlier this month to address unemployment in a variety of ways, including easing credit and implementing tax cuts.

At the warehouse store in Alexandria, Obama held a roundtable discussion with a small group representing labor and manufacturers and installers of energy efficient material. He said devoting public dollars to retrofitting is an example of the "strategic surgical steps" he hopes to take to stimulate the economy and create jobs while also addressing environmental concerns.

"We've got to get beyond the point where we think being smart on energy is a job destroyer," he said. "It's a job creator."

Standing before tall displays of "Energy Star" insulation, water heaters advertised as "tax-credit eligible" and other products marketed as energy-efficient, then spoke to a larger crowd of members of Congress, Home Depot executives and the media.

"Somebody said at the round table that insulation's not sexy," he said. "I disagree. Here's what's sexy about it: saving money."

Obama was joined by three Virginia Democrats: U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner and representatives Gerald E. Connolly and James P. Moran Jr.

Alexandria Mayor William Euille, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Sen.
Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also attended.

Several of the elected officials praised the president for his initiative, but they also expressed concern at the ability of state and federal governments to distribute and properly audit even more money through a second stimulus bill when so much money from the first Recovery Act remains unspent.

"I do think it's important to set up a quick and simple system," Warner said.

Added Connolly: "I'm very sympathetic to the intent, but I think the stimulus is working and needs to be given time to continue working."

Obama's pitch coincided with Vice President Biden's release Monday of a report documenting the "positive impact" of the energy components of the stimulus bill. The act represents the largest single investment in clean energy in U.S. history, Biden said; Obama also noted that the country is on track to double renewable energy production by 2012.

-- Amy Gardner

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  December 15, 2009; 1:05 PM ET
Categories:  Amy Gardner , Barack Obama , Gerald E. Connolly , James P. Moran Jr. , Mark Warner  
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Comments

I note that the Prez selected Home Depot, a haven for DYIers. This is contrast to early info on this proposal that will require that only certified contractors be permitted to do the work - and that all consumer rebates would originate with info submitted by the contractor.

Quality workmanship at a reasonable price is hard to get here in NoVa. I became a DYIer out of necessity - a limited budget and poor workmanship from the contractors I did hire.

Regular DYIers, like myself, do quality work and would also like to access incentives for energy improvement. I hire a contractor if necessary, However, I can handle the majority of energy improvement myself (thank you Home Depot, TW Perry, Noland and Capital Building Supply). Why do I have to pay extra to receive possibly substandard work in order to get the incentive?

Is this proposed program really about encouraging energy savings? Or is it a jobs program for those lower-level contractors who fell hard after the good times. (Remember, the good contractors are still in demand and still in business.)

Let's keep the focus on quality energy improvement, no matter who does them.

Posted by: mellwood1 | December 15, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Home Depot is where Obama should be working fulltime.

Posted by: hz9604 | December 15, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Re mellwood1, I disagree with your general idea that only "lower-level" contractors are hurting for work. With foreclosures, house sales totally off, no refinancing, etc., there are plenty of good, hardworking contractors who will welcome work doing installations.

That being said, I too am glad that the Recovery Act tax credit includes DIY work. I have learned that the up-to-date clearinghouse for all this stuff is at the DOE website, on their "Tax Breaks" page, which links to each particular program and requirements: http://www.energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm

I'm really impressed with Energy Secretary Steve Chu, and a page like this is a good example of why I like his management. Something any company would think to do, but government agencies might not.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | December 15, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Being an Architect, I can tell you that most homes in the U.S. are sufficiently weatherized for their locations.

This is just another opportunity for a "photo shoot" and a pointless, meaningless motivational talk.

Posted by: riain | December 15, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Homes built since the late 70s are relatively weatherized, but a lot of the housing stock is a lot older. And there are new technologies like improved windows, vents, furnaces and boilers that can save a lot of money while improving comfort. Stimulating their installation will help the manufacturers, installers, and the residents, while reducing fuel consumption.

Posted by: lpryluck1 | December 15, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama never ceases to amaze me with the photo ops. The world is crasing all around, the economy continues to sink, Congress passes another huge budget full of - oh-no - more earmarks (didn't the President promise "NO MORE EARMARKS!!!" under his watch?) Beam me up Scotty....

Posted by: ReneesOpinion | December 15, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Yeah right, unemployed Teachers, Pharmacists, and Programmers displaced by foreign visa workers are going to install insulation... Why not the President and Congress - I'm certain their job performance weatherizing the capital will be better than it is today. Better yet, let's make sure the corrupt politicians experience unemployment firsthand - NOW.

Here's a simple, obvious way to create jobs - call a moratorium on H-1B and L-1 visa programs and send the temporary visa workers home. NOW. But, that ain't gonna happen. Why?

Let's face it, the H-1B Mafia (greedy corporations, corrupt government officials in the US and India) have their own agenda and laid off American tech workers are annoying mosquitoes in their way. The Mafia doesn't give a hoot about laid off Americans, discrimination, or the constitution.

Paid off politicians honor their benefactors, not the people who elected them. Is it any coincidence that the first state dinner was for INDIA? I wouldn't be surprised if the party crashers were a deliberate plan to distract Americans and the media while the H-1B Mafia cemented plans to eradicate American knowledge workers and eliminate American middle class.

Sadly, the H-1B Mafia’s deadly cocktail of corporate greed and bottomless funding of corrupt politicians has resulted in taxation without representation and robbed Americans of truth, justice, and the American Way.

Forget for the people, by the people. Reality, for corporate greed, BUY greedy corporations.

Fortunately, America has a silver bullet to stop the H-1B Mafia dead in its tracks, a simple, powerful solution that won’t cost a dime – and it is us, the American Consumer.

How can America defeat the H-1B Mafia?

BOYCOTT Microsoft. NOW.

What better time to hit the enemy where it hurts but Christmas? Start with Microsoft, the founder, and largest abuser of the H-1b/L-1 visas. The rest will fall like dominos.

Say NO to Windows 7. Say YES to giving Americans a fair chance to compete for jobs in our own country.

Say NO to Windows Mobile. Say YES to job creation

Say NO to XBOX. Say YES to giving your kid a chance for a future job (recent college grad unemployment 25%+)

Shockingly, thanks to the H-1B Mafia, today it is LEGAL for employers to bypass qualified Americans and exclusively hire offshore for US jobs.

Spread the word, please. Unless American Consumers scream with our wallets NOTHING will happen to end this corruption.

Employ Boycott Microsoft. Americans. The Job You Save May Be Your Own.

Posted by: ReplacedbyH1b | December 15, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

So, now he blathers to a store full of democrat politicians and unionists. Gawd.

He'd better distance himself from Gerry Connolly, the carpetbagger from MA. He is one and done, and Obama is likely to follow down the same path.

Posted by: AWWNats | December 15, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

This guy Obama is a flaming moron. He must think the entire country is as dumb as ACORN, and his base..

Posted by: wewinyoulose | December 15, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing its idiot!

Posted by: cschotta1 | December 15, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Did the day laborers get to come in and hear obama? What a loser.

Posted by: highwaybluesoccer | December 15, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Re FairfaxVoter

Please get the topic straight. The Recovery Act does include DIY work. I have been the resource for the 236 owners in my HOA on this issue.

The topic here is a new home retrofit program some are terming "cash for caulkers." The specifics of the new program do talk about energy audits (which alone will require at least 4-5 years to recover in energy savings) and "retrofitting" only done through a certified contractor.

People are struggling to make ends meet today. What is the incentive to pay substandard contractors (the ones most likely to have to put up with government program requirements to get work)for savings that might add up only after many years?

I am glad you are enamored by Energy Secretary Chu. However, there are better, more user-friendly explanations of the ARRA tax credit for 2009-10 that I use for my neighbors.

So, Fairfaxvoter, which home energy improvement contracts do you currently have out for bid?

Posted by: mellwood1 | December 16, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

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