In PA, Obama Advocates 'Renaissance' in Manufacturing

President Obama called for an “all-hands-on-deck-effort” to revitalize American manufacturing by developing sophisticated new production technology during a visit Friday afternoon to a robotics laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Obama announced the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a consortium of business, academic and government leaders that will be charged with directing $500 million in federal grants to develop the most promising technology to boost manufacturing.

“If we want a robust, growing economy, we need a robust growing manufacturing center,” Obama said.

It was Obama’s 13th visit as president to Pennsylvania, a state he must win to be re-elected in 2012. The weak economy, with a national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, is the largest political impediment he faces, so Obama is trying to highlight job creation.

Republicans said Obama was spouting empty rhetoric, while his economic policies have made it harder for private enterprise to generate growth and jobs.

“Unfortunately, the president’s policies over the past two-and-a-half years have taken a bad economy and made it worse,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R.,Pa.) said in a statement. “The massive deficits, threats of tax increases, onerous regulations, increased cost of health care and reluctance to pass free trade agreements that would expand Pennsylvania’s export markets are all having a chilling effect.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that Obama carried Pennsylvania in 2008 on the strength of his promises of change, but he’s in trouble with voters now because he has not delivered.

“In 2008 Pennsylvania went for Obama based on his rhetoric, but 2012 will be based on results,” Priebus said in a conference call with reporters.

As Rep. Chaka Fattah, Democrat from Philadelphia, noted, the program is to be financed with existing federal funds so there is no new spending. He said the program will better focus efforts to develop cutting-edge technology.

"The future is bright for American can-do energy and innovation," Fattah said.