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Obama Speaks Before City Club Of Cleveland

President Obama at today's City Club event (Photo by ideastream's Brian Bull)
President Obama at today's City Club event (Photo by ideastream's Brian Bull)

GANZER: At 5:44, it’s All Things Considered on 90.3 I’m Tony Ganzer.

President Barack Obama today became the latest Commander-in-Chief to speak to the City Club of Cleveland. He spoke this afternoon to several hundred people gathered at the convention center in downtown Cleveland. ideastream’s Brian Bull was in attendance, and he joins us now. Hello, Brian!

[Watch the entire address on-demand]

BULL: Hello, Tony!

GANZER: Brian, we heard before the speech that the President would talk about ‘middle class economics,’ what specifically did he address?

BULL: To the point, the President announced a textiles-based manufacturing competition, aimed to culminate in the creation of a high-tech research center. It builds on 8 other centers of innovation with public and private funding partners.

Obama01: “And this partnership is bringing good manufacturing jobs back to Cleveland. The republican budget would cut the whole thing, entirely. If something is working why would we want to get rid of it. We should invest in it. Which is why today I announce nearly $500 million dollars in new public and private investment for American manufacturing and that includes a new manufacturing hub that will make America a leader in making high tech fabrics our soldiers wear in battle.” (:36)

GANZER: We’re not talking any general textiles, Brian. What are these ‘high-end technical textiles?’

BULL: Well, the competition is being led by the Department of Defense, and these technical textiles could include fire or bullet resistant materials to aid soldiers, police, and peace-keeping forces. It could include exceptionally advanced material with sensors that can determine if a wounded soldier for instance, needs a specialized compression bandage.

GANZER: This manufacturing competition is the ninth such competition launched by the Obama Administration, correct?

BULL: Yes, and the first such center is based in Youngstown. The White House says “America Makes” – as it’s called – has been drawing investment to the state, including $32-million from GE, and is developing 3-D printing for metals.

GANZER: Who is supporting this initiative from the President?

BULL: Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown—who came into Cleveland with the President--is on board with the initiative. The two men earlier toured Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network’s Manufacturing Innovation Center at Cleveland State, and there is private matching money involved in the project. $75 million federal dollars in this advanced textile push will be matched by $75 million from private sector resources.

GANZER: Meanwhile, Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman sent out a release yesterday, reminding people that he’s co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus.

BULL: Yes. In short, Portman said he’s pleased with the President’s visit to the manufacturing innovation center, which he’s worked with to advance training and more “Made in the USA” products. And he added that he hopes Mr. Obama will join bipartisan efforts on these “important issues”.

GANZER: Advanced technologies and innovation are important to Northeast Ohio’s future, given the decline of steel and other core staple industries over the decades. There is conflict here though, despite the friendly, bipartisan banter?

BULL: (laughs) You think? The President attacked the House Republican’s latest budget, which he says will endanger the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, among other things….

Obama02: "It's a budget that doesn't just fail to embrace middle class economics, it’s the opposite of that. It doubles down on trickle down. I don't expect you by the way to read the budget, theirs or mine, but you can do some fact-checking on this. Their budget doles out even more to those who already have the most, makes massive cuts to investments that benefit all of us and asks middle class taxpayers to foot the bill." (:32)

BULL: The GOP counters that it’s aiming to be fiscally prudent and point to Obama’s vetoing of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, health care fees through his Affordable Care Act, and imposed restrictions on carbon emissions as stifling industry.

GANZER: In the time we have left, Brian, any notable questions from the audience?

Bull: Someone asked a March Madness question, as to who was in his bracket. Mr. Obama said no one he picked ever won in his time in office. But when asked what he’d have done differently early in his first term, he said he’d have made his case for the Affordable Care Act and the Big Three auto bailout a lot stronger and earlier, and he’d close Guantanamo on its first day.

GANZER: Thanks, Brian!

BULL: Thanks for having me, Tony.

GANZER: That’s ideastream’s Brian Bull, reporting on President Obama’s remarks today to the City Club of Cleveland.