When President Obama visited the Daimler truck plant in Mount Holly last month, Republicans sent us an op-ed to coincide with the president's trip. In it, National Committee chairman Reince Priebus argued that the economy was worse on almost every measure because of Obama.
With Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Charlotte on Wednesday, the Democrats saw a chance for equal treatment. They sent an op-ed under Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx's byline. In it, Foxx argues that Obama has put America, North Carolina and Charlotte back on track.
President Obama Has Delivered for Charlotte
By Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte
Four years ago, President Barack Obama promised North Carolinians that, despite dark clouds on the horizon, he would work to turn things around and put our nation on the path of sustainable, long-term growth. To do so, he has confronted structural impediments to long-term growth and the challenge of restoring our confidence in the future. America, North Carolina and Charlotte are coming back, and it is largely because President Obama has put us on such a course. With Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in town today, I want to share just a few reasons why I believe President Obama has earned re-election.
For most of the last decade, we were told that low taxes, in and of themselves, would create a rising tide and lift all boats. We experienced something different - a period during which the real income of most working North Carolinians shrank and, then, the worst recession in more than 70 years and massive job losses.
Through decisive and effective leadership, President Obama averted a second Great Depression, took us from losing 700,000 jobs a month to 24 consecutive months of private sector job growth and saved an American auto industry that nearly collapsed. Did President Obama lower taxes? Yes, he did. In fact, small businesses received eighteen tax cuts over the last three years. His formula of targeted cuts and targeted investments has yielded 3.7 million jobs in the last two years alone, including nearly 100,000 in North Carolina and nearly 11,000 in the Charlotte metro area. For the first time in more than a decade, the manufacturing sector is also adding jobs, including nearly 7,000 in North Carolina and nearly 2,400 in Charlotte since the recovery took hold, Companies that once relied heavily on overseas labor are now bringing their operations back “onshore.”
While the rebound in American manufacturing is ongoing, the President also recognizes that the engine of our economic recovery is our nation’s small businesses, which represent 98 percent of all employers in our state. That is why his Small Business Administration has approved 476 loans to small businesses in Mecklenburg County over the last four years at a total value of over $196 million, creating and retaining over 5,000 local jobs. The Recovery Act and Jobs Act approved about $88 million in loans to over 200 Charlotte-area businesses with over 2,200 jobs created and retained. And the SBA’s efforts aren’t limited to Charlotte: last year, the agency approved the highest total volume of loans to North Carolina businesses in its history.
Even as we invest in job creation today, we must also invest in the foundations of tomorrow’s economic success, and President Obama has shown an unwavering commitment to education. Whether by incentivizing education reform through “Race to the Top,” expanding access to community colleges, or making college more affordable by creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit--which provided an average tax credit of $1,800 to an estimated 250,000 North Carolina families in 2011--the President has invested in education at all levels. We will not maintain our position as the world’s leading economy if we aren’t training the world’s brightest mathematicians, scientists, and engineers – a fact we need no convincing of here in North Carolina where our colleges and universities provide the backbone of our future growth.
It worries me, then, when Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney puts forth budget proposals that drastically cut Pell Grants and lets the American Opportunity Tax Credit expire. North Carolina has never told the farmer's son or the teacher's daughter to just "shop around" for money to pay for school. In a time of economic challenge, North Carolina needs more kids taking advantage of higher education, not fewer, and we need a President who is unafraid to stand behind them.
Finally, President Obama understands that we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and helps families save at the pump. Domestic oil production under President Obama is already at an eight-year high, and his Administration is diversifying our energy portfolio to include more clean and renewable sources, from biofuels to wind energy. The President has also taken broad measures to reduce energy costs for North Carolina families, from helping build a smarter energy grid in Charlotte to implementing new fuel efficiency standards that will save families more than $8,000 per vehicle at the pump. These efforts, and others promoted by President Obama, will hasten Charlotte's rise as a national and international energy hub.
We should also acknowledge the incredible turnaround in American foreign policy - from bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice to ending the Iraq War to improving our standing around the world.
While there is still much work to be done, President Obama deserves credit for recognizing that we have to build a lasting recovery by investing in our future and ensuring that everyone gets a fair shot. North Carolina voters put their faith in President Obama four years ago and he’s gotten us through some tough times. Our unemployment rate is falling, jobs are returning to our city and state, and we’re making targeted investments that are putting the economy on sound footing for future generations. In November, North Carolina should reward President Obama with four more years to finish the job.