By Scott Wilson
The Washington Post
ASHEVILLE, N.C._President Obama chose a factory in economically distressed Appalachia on Wednesday as the stage set to showcase his State of the Union proposals to strengthen American manufacturing, telling employees that "we still have a lot of work to do."
"And this is a job for everybody," Obama told the audience of workers and guests at the Linamr engine factory here. "It's not a Republican job or a Democratic job. It's all of our jobs."
Obama built Tuesday night's State of the Union address around a series of economic proposals that he believes would benefit an imperiled middle class. He chose North Carolina — whose voters voted for him in 2008 and for Republican opponent Mitt Romney last fall — to begin an outside-the-Beltway effort to underscore the urgency of his agenda.
His proposals, including a 25 percent hike in the minimum wage, are likely to meet fierce resistance in a divided Congress. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republicans signaled immediate opposition Wednesday to a higher minimum wage and other economic plans outlined by the president.
But Obama intends to use backdrops such as this one, with the real-life trappings of American manufacturing, to rally support for specific ideas at a time of deep economic uncertainty. "I need Congress to do its part," Obama said to applause. "We've got to stop with some of the politics we see in Washington sometimes that's focused on who's up and who's down."
His ideas to help boost American manufacturing, squeezed by cheaper competition in a global economy, center on spending new money on job training, ending tax breaks for companies that move manufacturing jobs to other countries, and urging businesses to look to the United States first to make investments in research and factories by lowering the effective tax rate paid by manufacturing companies.