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Obama highlights 'insourcing' jobs at Milwaukee event

By Tom Cohen and Dan Merica, CNN
updated 3:23 PM EST, Wed February 15, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Obama hails Master Lock for bringing jobs back to the United States
  • NEW: "Nobody's going to out-compete the United States," Obama says
  • Obama had mentioned Master Lock in his State of the Union address
  • The event was on the first day of a three-day trip by the president

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama traveled Wednesday to a Wisconsin company he highlighted in his State of the Union address, telling workers they were an example of job "insourcing" needed to strengthen economic recovery.

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd at Master Lock in Milwaukee, Obama pushed for corporate tax reforms that would benefit companies bringing back jobs overseas while cutting tax subsidies for competitors that outsource jobs.

'"It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America, and this Congress should send me these tax reforms right now," Obama said. "I will sign them right away. Right now."

Obama jokes about daughters, high school

When the crowd began a chant of "right now," Obama joined in by repeating it twice.

In his State of the Union address, Obama noted how Master Lock president and CEO John Heppner had told him that the company found it made business sense to bring jobs back to the United States.

The president repeated that story Wednesday, saying businesses should create jobs and build products in America as long as the costs were roughly the same as making those products overseas.

Obama also noted he directed his administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair trade practices in countries such as China to make sure "we've got an even playing field, because when we've got an even playing field, I promise you, nobody's going to outcompete the United States of America."

His comment came a day after Obama met in Washington with visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to discuss relations between the two world powers including U.S. concerns with what it calls unfair trade practices by China.

"We want to work with China to make sure everyone is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system," Obama said Tuesday, sitting next to Xi at the White House.

Before his speech Wednesday in Milwaukee, Obama toured the Master Lock facility that he said had returned to full capacity for the first time in 15 years.

Master Lock has brought around 100 jobs back to Milwaukee that had been outsourced in the past, the White House said in a statement.

The tour brought back memories of using Master Locks in his past, Obama said, particularly recalling the powerful odors of the boys' locker room in high school.

"And then I was thinking about as I got older and kept using Master Locks, I became an even better customer because I couldn't always remember my combination, so I ended up having to have the lock sawed off and buy a new one," he said to laughter. "So I was giving you a lot of business."

Following the speech, Obama headed for Los Angeles to attend campaign events Wednesday night and continue his three-day trip.

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