David Rivera Calls Out Obama on Jobs Plan
South Florida congressman takes on the president's jobs speech in North Carolina
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Republicans turned to Florida freshman Congressman David Rivera on Tuesday to respond to a jobs speech that President Barack Obama made the day before in North Carolina.
“The president’s speech yesterday did nothing but reiterate the failed policies he has been espousing since the start of his term,” Rivera said Tuesday. “America deserves better.”
The president spoke in Durham, N.C., Monday at Cree Inc., which makes semiconductor equipment. Obama visited Cree while on the campaign trail in 2008 when the Tarheel State ranked as one of the top political battlegrounds -- much as it will be in 2012.
In his speech Monday, Obama referred to his previous visit there three years ago.
“That was in 2008, before the financial crisis, before the bottom fell out of the economy, before a vicious recession that made things that much tougher for working families,” said Obama. “Today, the single most serious economic problem we face is getting people back to work. We stabilized the economy. We prevented a financial meltdown. An economy that was shrinking is now growing. We’ve added more than 2 million private-sector jobs over the last 15 months alone.
“But I’m still not satisfied,” Obama continued. “I will not be satisfied until everyone who wants a good job that offers some security has a good job that offers security. I won’t be satisfied until the empty storefronts in town are open for business again. I won’t be satisfied until working families feel like they’re moving forward again, that they’re progressing again. That’s what drives me every day when I walk down to the Oval Office -- you, your families, your jobs, your dreams, and everything it takes to reach those dreams.
“Now, our economic challenges were years in the making, and it will take years to get back to where we need to be. But for all the hits we’ve taken, we are still America,” added the president. "We’ve got the largest economy in the world, we’ve got the best workers in the world, we’ve got the finest universities in the world, we’ve got the most successful companies in the world. We’ve got everything we need to help our workers adapt and to help our fellow Americans through this tough period.”
Obama called for greater cooperation between the private and public sectors, universities and nonprofits to restore the economy. The president also called for more focus on high-tech jobs.
“Right now, there are more than four job-seekers for every job opening in America,” the president said. “But when it comes to science and high-tech fields, the opposite is true. The businesses represented here tell me they’re having a hard time finding high-skilled workers to fill their job openings. And that’s because today only 14 percent of all undergraduate students enroll in what we call the STEM subjects -- science, technology, engineering, and math. Of those students, one-third will switch out of those fields, and only about two in five will graduate with a STEM degree or certification within six years.
“So, these are the jobs of the future,” insisted Obama. “These are the jobs that China and India are cranking out. Those students are hungry because they understand if they get those skills, they can find a good job, they can create companies, they can create businesses, create wealth. And we’re falling behind in the very fields we know are going to be our future.”
Obama said that, with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in the lead, his administration is backing an effort from the private sector to produce an additional 10,000 new engineers in America every year.
Rivera -- who defeated Democrat Joe Garcia, an employee in the Energy Department for the Obama administration in 2010 -- took aim at the president’s remarks on Tuesday.
“President Obama says that the debate going on in Washington over the national debt and deficit is really about job creation. While I agree that jobs must be our priority, I disagree drastically on how to achieve this goal,” said Rivera. “The debate over the national debt and deficit is about jobs because the current state of the nation’s economy, and our uncertain economic future, give employers pause. When a business doesn’t know if it will have to contend with new, costly regulations, or if they will be taxed more to pay for a new government program -- what incentive do they have to make a commitment to a prospective employee, or to invest in a new project of their own?”
In his speech, the president announced the Better Buildings Initiative -- "putting people back to work doing the work that America needs done. Upgrading buildings for energy efficiency could save America’s businesses up to $40 billion a year on their utility bills. And obviously that $40 billion could be better spent growing and hiring new workers. It will boost manufacturing of energy-efficient products like those made here at Cree. It will put contractors and construction workers back on the job. It is a win-win, win-win proposition.”
Obama also announced that a familiar face, whom he called “a champion for this kind of energy innovation,” would lead efforts to reach out to the private sector for this initiative -- former President Bill Clinton, whose wife serves as Obama’s secretary of state.
In his response, Rivera also insisted that the blame for the current economic slowdown rests on the Obama administration and its allies in Congress.
“The fiscally irresponsible short-sightedness and spending binges from the president and House and Senate Democrats have brought job creation to a halt. What is their answer to this problem one year after their so-called ‘Summer of Recovery’ as we enter the 28th consecutive month of more than 8 percent unemployment? More spending. More government. That’s the wrong answer,” continued Rivera. “House Republicans have a different solution. We believe American businesses need the security and the freedom to grow and hire new employees, and unlike the president, we have presented a concrete plan to empower families, small businesses and entrepreneurs to create jobs.”
Rivera said that he and his fellow Republicans have the right idea by looking to reduce regulations on business and reforming the tax code. The Florida congressman also turned to a favorite topic he has focused on in recent months -- attacking the Obama administration for holding up free-trade agreements with South Korea and two Latin American nations.
“Our plan encourages the growth and creation of new markets by passing all three pending free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, which have sat idle for too long,” said Rivera. “It does so by encouraging entrepreneurship and growth by rewarding private innovation and private initiative -- not through government intrusion. Finally, our plan tackles America’s fiscal problems head-on, with a long-term vision that will leave current businesses feeling secure, and future generations with a prosperous nation instead of holding the bag for the irresponsibility in our time.”
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