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Plouffe Urges Mayors to Keep Working on Legislative Issues During Election Year

By Eugene T. Lowe
January 30, 2012

White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe spoke at the final plenary session of the 80th Winter Meeting of the Conference of Mayors describing the plans being made by the White House to deal with a number of issues over the next few months, including jobs, education, the economy and President Obama's State of the Union Speech. He said that President Obama had just come from Orlando, a big tourist destination, to announce a policy that will make it possible for cities like Orlando, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles to get more tourists. "More tourists means more money for small businesses," he said. Plouffe continued, "Every decision we make here in Washington will have a positive impact on mayors and their constituents."

Plouffe noted that people want you to live up to your responsibilities and make tough decisions, and that is why "we talk about investing in education and jobs." He said to the mayors, "Your constituents endured this recession, they made tough decisions and that is what they want from their institutions. For many of your constituents, they want their institutions to live up to their responsibilities."

Plouffe cited a speech given by President Obama in Kansas last month. President Obama, he said "talked about the values he believes in." Plouffe said, "The President realizes that this is a make or break moment for the middle class. We have to continue to create jobs and to bring unemployment down. The central challenge has been how to have more people in the middle class. For many people in America now, the basic bargain may be in question, may be eroded in that they are not sure that if they work hard that they will be recognized for it. The wage gap is at its highest. There is a growing gap between the wealthiest and everybody else."

"This is very unique moment we have," Plouffe said. "You're beginning to see a manufacturing Renaissance. We are beginning to see many manufacturing businesses bringing jobs to America due to the increase in wages and business costs in China and other places. We've got to step on the accelerator," he added. Plouffe told the mayors that the president would give concrete ideas about creating jobs during his State of the Union address to Congress. Plouffe asserted, " We are going to create jobs in America. The jobs we need are going to have to come from our manufacturing sector, particularly high-tech, clean energy, and health technology." As an example of what the federal government can do when it provides incentives, Plouffe pointed to General Motors which is now the number one auto maker in the world.

Plouffe said that the President's plan would include specific proposals to boost workers' skills, promote clean energy, and build the country's manufacturing base. The President, Plouffe said, "wants to build an America that's durable and that works for as many people in this country as possible; an America that is here to last neither for a short-term economic moment nor one built on bubbles. We need a durable economy and a durable country."

According to Plouffe, the gridlock in Washington damaged the economy last year, particularly in the unprecedented standoff over whether to raise the national debt ceiling. "There already were problems even before the debt ceiling crisis reached a fever pitch, from the tsunami in Japan to the Arab Spring to the troubles in Europe. We got into the summer and then Washington made it worse. It was a self-inflicted wound. The debt-ceiling debacle is something that never needs to be repeated in Washington again," he said.

Plouffe closed his remarks by exhorting the mayors to keep working to get things done during this legislative year. "We're not nave. We understand we're in a very divided country and we're headed into an election year but the election is still 10 long months away. We are already hearing some legislators saying that we can't get anything done this year. Please mayors, I would implore you: Demand of us, demand of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, that this is not acceptable. We may not solve all the philosophical problems this year. I'm sure we won't. But we still have a little work to do, so we need your help to make sure Congress lands the plane. You have to help make the case to keep the tax cut, to bring the teachers back to classes, the fire fighters, police back to work."