Newton, IA - Speaking in front of six giant wind turbines in America's heartland, President Obama pushed lawmakers in Washington to pass legislation that will extend two tax cuts impacting wind manufacturing.
"If Congress doesn't act, companies like this one will take a hit," Mr. Obama said to workers at TPI Composites, an Iowa company that supports wind energy.
The two clean energy tax credits the White House is pushing for are the Production Tax Credit, set to expire at the end of this year, and the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit.
The White House says that if the Production Tax Credit were to expire, as many as 30,000 wind industry jobs could disappear in the next year.
Extending the PTC is part of Obama's recent "To Do List" for Congress, and he made the point in Iowa Thursday that the tax credit has bipartisan support.
"There are several Republican governors, including the governor of this state, who are calling on Congress to act," Obama said. "There are members of Congress in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle, including your two senators, who support these tax credits."
The second tax credit, which has already expired, applies to manufacturers investing in clean energy in the United States. As the president often calls for America to compete in the 21st century though investments in renewable sources of energy, the Advanced Energy Manufacturing tax credit would apply to companies creating solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal fuels. The tax credit, which was part of the Recovery Act, was over-subscribed in its funding. The White House would like to see an additional $5 billion to support projects that did not receive funding in the initial program.
But the Republican Party of Iowa thinks Obama is playing politics with the Hawkeye state. In a statement, GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker attacked the president for not getting a budget passed in Washington. "Rather than jaunt around Iowa using taxpayer money, President Obama should explain to Iowans why his budget has failed to garner a single vote in Congress and why he has added an unconscionable $5 trillion to the national debt after promising to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term."
Iowa enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 5.1%. The state economy has stayed resilient during the recession in part because of strong agriculture sectors and stable financial services. The area where Iowans are suffering is in manufacturing, and the president told the audience Thursday he regards the energy industry as an industry on the rise.
"This industry, thanks in large part to some important tax credits, has taken off," the president said. "The state of Iowa now gets nearly 20 percent of all its electricity from wind."
The president has Iowans to thank for his caucus win in 2008, which set into motion the momentum he needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. In 2012, Iowa may be more of a swing state. The state has been historically red, flipping for Obama in 2008, but Republicans are hopeful they can win it back this year.
Governor Romney, who has all but wrapped up the nomination, was back in the Hawkeye state earlier this month campaigning. Mitt Romney originally was named the victor in the Republican caucus earlier this year, but a recount delivered the win to Rick Santorum.
The latest Public Policy Polling tally gives the president a 10 point lead over the former Massachusetts governor. With less than six months till election day, Iowans may see a lot more of the two opponents.