Obama Speaks At Waukesha General Electric Plant

Obama spoke at the General Electric engine plant in Waukesha Thursday in front of a crowd of several hundred people.

He was introduced by several speakers, including GE Power CEO Lorraine Bolsinger, and GE employee Reggie Troop. Troop underwent a job training program that led to him working at Ge. He said the training was essential to helping him earn a living.

Obama started off his speech with a few jokes.

“I was gonna start off by saying the state of the union is cold,” said Obama. “I decided that was not entirely appropriate.”

Obama referred to the ideas of his 2014 State of the Union address, delivered Tuesday.

“On tuesday i laid out some steps that we can take right now to speed up economic growth and strengthen the middle class and build ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” said Obama.

Obama said that even in the 21st century, manufacturing was still a viable career option.

“You can make a lot more with the trades, with manufacturing, than you can with an art history degree,” he said.

Obama highlighted the regrowth of the American economy and his administration’s successes.

“our deficit has been cut in half, housing is rebounding, manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s,” said Obama. “we still have more work to do but that’s pretty strong.”

Obama said that the most significant way of improving the economy was by providing job training.

“I’ve asked congress to fund proven programs that connect more ready to work programs with ready to fill jobs,” said Obama.

He focused on the General Electric plant’s success in providing job training. The plant was part of an apprenticeship program, where students spent part of their day at high school and part of it at the factory, learning the job. He said that programs like this should be implemented across the nation.

Obama also said that his reforms would move forward whether or not Congress moved with him.

“Wherever i can take steps to extend opportunity to help working families thats what im going to do with or without congress,” he said.

After speaking, Obama signed an executive order that he said would initiate a review of how the government helps business train workers.

“[Vice President Joe] Biden is going to to lead an across the board review of America’s training programs,” said Obama. “We need to take a job-driven approach to training.”

Attendee Thelma Sias said she agreed with Obama’s decision to move forward with his economic plans without Congress.

“He wasn‘t saying anything we don’t know – we see day in and day out the challenge of the experience of a part of government not ready to be a part of a big change in America,” said Thias.

Obama also touched on income divide between men and women, noting that Women earn on average 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. He said that eliminating this discrimination will help the entire nation.

“When women succeed, america succeeds,” said Obama.

Obama also said that all hardworking Americans deserve health care. He said his Affordable Care Act will provide relief to millions of Americans.

“The Affordable Care Act means no one is going to get dropped oin the insurance or denied coverage because of a pre existing condition,” said Obama.

He also argued for raising the minimum wage in America. He said that such legislation would have broad public support.

“Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty,” said Obama.

He mentioned his plans to require federal contractors to pay their workers a minimum wage of $10.10. He said a bill to enforce a similar minimum wage is in Congress at the moment.

Several area politicians attended, including US Representative Gwen Moore and former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle as well as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele. Current Governor Scott Walker didn’t attend, instead meeting Obama on as the President stepped off his plane in Milwaukee. Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima chose not to attend.

A group of protesters stood on the streets outside the factory, including one whose sign read, “Honk if Obama deserves an ‘F’ on kids healthcare.”

Obama’s next stop will be in Tennessee, where he will speak at a high school.