MILWAUKEE, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama, buoyed by word Congress was moving to extending the payroll tax cut, said Wednesday he was ready to sign the bill immediately.
"I'm glad to see that Congress is making progress on extending the payroll tax cut so that taxes don't go up on 160 million working Americans," Obama said at Master Lock in Milwaukee. "It will help speed up this recovery. It will make a real difference in the lives of millions of people and as soon as Congress sends an extension of this tax cut and unemployment insurance to my desk, I will sign it right away."
Democratic and Republican lawmakers lauded the emerging deal to continue the payroll tax cut through the end of the year and renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. Leaders said Congress hopes to send the measure to Obama within days. If Congress fails to act, both programs expire.
But extending the payroll tax holiday and the emergency unemployment insurance is just a start, the Democratic president said. More needs to be done to help create jobs, bring back manufacturing and restore security in the middle class as the U.S. economy recovers.
He spoke of Master Lock's returning jobs to the United States after outsourcing them overseas, noting the plant is running at full capacity for the first time in 15 years.
"Today, you're selling products directly to customers in China that are stamped with three proud words: 'Made In America,'" he said.
For the first time since the 1990s, U.S. manufacturers are creating new jobs and insourcing jobs in the United States, rather than outsourcing, the president said.
"They're deciding that if the cost of doing business here is no longer much different than the cost of doing business in countries like China, they'd rather place their bets on America," he said.
Washington's job is to ensure insourcing is the more attractive option for companies and to create new jobs for U.S. manufacturing, Obama said. And a good place to start is revising the tax code, repeating a theme made during his State of the Union address.
"It makes no sense" that companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas, he said, telling Congress to "Get it done."
He said businesses that outsource jobs shouldn't get tax deductions; that money should go toward relocation expenses for companies that bring jobs back stateside.
American companies also should pay their fair share of taxes rather than avoid them by moving jobs and profits overseas, Obama said, adding that going forward multinational companies should have to pay a basic minimum tax, which would go toward lowering taxes for companies choosing to stay and hire in the United States.
He also called for a bigger tax cut for U.S. manufacturers that are high-tech or wanting to relocate to a community hit hard by the economic downturn.
"It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America," Obama said. "Congress should send me these tax reforms and I will sign them right away."
Obama said he would go "anywhere in the world" to open new markets for U.S. products and ensure fair trade practices are being followed worldwide.
"American workers are the most productive on Earth," Obama said, "and if the playing field is level, I promise you America will always win."
He also spoke of his request to Congress to join him in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.
The United States won't return to an economy weakened by "outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits," Obama said. "We need an economy that's built to last. An economy based on American manufacturing, American-made energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of the values that made this country great -- Hard work, fair play, shared responsibility."