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Obama tells autoworkers: 'Don't bet against America'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Obama: Don't bet against America
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama and Vice President Biden visit an Indiana transmission plant
  • Obama says Chrysler is investing $800 million in the Kokomo plant
  • The plant received money from the economic stimulus act and auto restructuring plan
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Kokomo, Indiana (CNN) -- President Barack Obama visited a once-struggling auto transmission plant Tuesday to hail its return to full production with help from his administration, and to announce a new $800 million investment in the facility by Chrysler.

Talking to workers at the plant, Obama said its recovery to full capacity after "a couple of tough years" showed the success of his government's policies in the face of a global economic recession.

"Here's the lesson: don't bet against America," Obama said to applause. "Don't bet against the American auto industry. ... Don't bet against the American worker."

The autoworker audience also cheered and clapped loudly when Obama said Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne had just told him of plans for a new $800 million investment in the plant.

"That's real money, $800 million," Obama said to the applause.

The event was the latest in a series of visits by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to work sites across the country to tout the help provided by the $862 billion stimulus bill passed in February 2009, and other economic policies.

Republicans call the stimulus bill a failure because unemployment grew to well over the 8 percent level predicted by the Obama administration.

Obama and Biden contend the stimulus money and other steps to counter the recession, including bailing out U.S. automakers General Motors and Chrysler as well as Wall Street banks, prevented the onset of an economic depression.

Biden, who introduced Obama on Tuesday, said they had lunch before the event with Kokomo firefighters who would have lost their jobs without the stimulus bill money.

Such government intervention is necessary when a recession hits towns like Kokomo, Biden insisted.

Obama also called for Congress to extend lower tax rates for most Americans before the end of the year, when tax cuts enacted in the Bush administration are set to expire.

His proposal would extend the lower rates for people earning up to $200,000 a year or families earning up to $250,000, while Republicans want the lower tax rates extended for all Americans regardless of income level.

Extending all the lower tax rates would cost almost $4 trillion over 10 years, while Obama's proposal would reduce the price tag by $700 billion.

Republicans argue that no one should face higher taxes as the nation slowly recovers from the recession, while Obama contends that the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans can afford a return to higher tax rates of the 1990s.

Cutting the federal deficit requires sacrifice by all Americans, Obama said, including the richest.

CNN's Tom Cohen and Alan Silverleib contributed to this story.