By DUANE NOLLEN
The Oskaloosa Herald
President Barack Obama told the audience at his campaign stop in Oskaloosa Tuesday that they have a critical choice to make at the polls this November.
“It is a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how America became great and how it’s going to stay great,” Obama said to 852-person audience gathered underneath shade trees at Nelson Pioneer Farm just outside Oskaloosa.
Four years ago, Obama faced many challenges when he took office.
“We fought two wars on a credit card,” he said. Also, the country was undergoing the “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”
Obama said there are no quick fixes for such problems; however, America has the means to come back.
“We have the best workers in the world. We have the best entrepreneurs in the world. We have the best farmers in the world. We have the best scientists, the best researchers,” he said.
Although Obama spoke at a pioneer farm museum celebrating Iowa’s 19th century heritage, a main tenant of his message was about 21st century high technology — wind energy.
Republican Mitt Romney has stated he would let the Wind Energy Tax Credit, which is due for renewal soon, to expire. Obama wants to keep the tax credit.
“And at a moment when homegrown energy is creating new jobs in states like Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers. He’s said new sources of energy like these are ‘imaginary.’ His running mate calls them a ‘fad.’ During a speech a few months ago, Governor Romney even explained his energy policy this way: ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’ That’s what he said about wind power. ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’
“I wonder if he actually tried that. That’s something I would have liked to see. But if he really wants to learn something about wind energy, Iowa, all he has to do is pay attention to what you’ve been doing.
“If he knew what you’ve been doing, he’d see that in places like Newton, where a few years ago, a Maytag plant shut down and jobs dried up; folks are now back to work manufacturing enormous new towers and blades for some of the most high-tech wind turbines on the planet. The wind industry now supports about 7,000 jobs in this state, and 75,000 jobs across the country. These jobs aren’t a fad — they’re good jobs and sources of pride we need to fight for.
If he knew what you’ve been doing, he’d know we used to have to import most of the parts like these. Today they’re made in Iowa, and made in America, by American workers. That’s not imaginary — that’s real. And that’s what we’re fighting for in this election.”
Obama also said he’s fighting to protect the middle class.
He contends that the centerpiece of Romney’s economic strategy is to give a $5 trillion tax cut on top of the Bush-era tax cuts. In comparison, Obama said the U.S. defense budget is only a half trillion dollars per year.
Obama said the country has heard that “trickle down fairy dust” before in 2001. Then, the country had a trillion dollar deficit.
Obama said what is needed is tax relief for the middle class. Obama said he has cut taxes for a typical Iowa family by $3,600. He also wants to keep the tax rates the same for the first $250,000 of income and set a higher rate for sums above that.
Rather than “trickle down economics,” which is a top-down cycle, Obama said he believes prosperity can be achieved from “the middle class out” and from “the bottom up.”
Obama also defended his health care reform program, which the U.S. Supreme Court recently ratified.
The Romney camp says “let’s get rid of ‘Obamacare.’”
Obama said his health care reform program benefits working families.
“In a country as rich as ours, no one should go bankrupt if you get sick,” Obama said.
About 6 million young people can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan. People do not have to fear their coverage being dropped by insurance companies for pre-existing conditions, Obama said.
“We’re not going backwards and refight the fights from three years ago,” Obama said. “We’re going forwards, we’re not going backwards.”
Obama also touched on a number of issues.
For the nation’s veterans, he wants to serve them as well as they have served their country.
He wants to take money saved from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and “do some nation-building at home” to create jobs to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. Obama also wants to set up a Veterans Job Corps to help them find employment.
On the topic of education, Obama said a higher education “is not a luxury, it is an economic necessity.” He wants to make college more affordable for “every single young person in America” with lower tuition at colleges and universities.
Obama warned the audience that they will get bombarded with TVs against Obama’s programs. He said the negative ad campaign may be a way to win an election, but it’s not a plan to create jobs.
“They don’t have that plan. I do have that plan,” Obama said.
Obama said he learned something from Iowans in 2008.
“When you get involved, you can’t be stopped,” Obama said.
At the end of his speech, the crowd gave the president a standing ovation.
Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at email@example.com