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In Indiana, Obama touts 'resilient' American economy

May 06, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters )

Reporting from Washington —

President Obama hailed a "resilient" American economy during a visit to Indianapolis on Friday, saying that signs of recovery continue even amid "serious headwinds" like high gas prices.

( This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.)

Obama again timed a visit like this one to the headquarters of Allison Transmission to coincide with the release of the monthly jobs report, which beat expectations with the addition of 244,000 jobs across all industries. Still, the unemployment rate ticked up two tenths of a percentage point, from 8.8% to 9%, as more Americans began actively searching for work.

Allison Transmission is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, according to the White House. Obama inspected a new hybrid propulsion system, production of which is being supported through a stimulus grant.

"This is where the American economy is rebuilding, where we are regaining our footing," he said. "There are always going to be some ups and downs ... but the fact is that we are still making progress. And that proves how resilient the American economy is and how resilient the American worker is, and that we can take a hit, and we can keep on moving forward."

Still, Obama acknowledged the drag of high gas prices. Even though crude oil prices have dipped somewhat following the killing of Osama bin Laden, the American Automobile Assn. still reports that the average price of a gallon of gas in the Hoosier State is over $4.23, among the highest in the country.

The president said his administration continues to explore short-term solutions for bringing down prices, but said the real answer lies in a shift toward renewable energy.

"If we're serious about our energy challenges, we're going to have to do more than drill," he said, one day after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a measure to expand offshore energy exploration.

He again called for ending billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies.

"If you're already paying them at the pump, we don't need to pay them through the tax code," he said.

Obama narrowly won Indiana in 2008, the first Democrat to do so in 44 years. Upon his arrival in Indianapolis he was greeted by the state's Republican governor, Mitch Daniels -- a potential rival in his reelection campaign.

The Indiana Republican Party greeted Obama with a web video saying that his "hope and change rhetoric from 2008 hasn't squared with reality as president."

After leaving Indianapolis, the president flies to Ft. Campbell, Ky., where he will meet privately with members of the special forces team that participated in the operation that killed Bin Laden. He'll also speak to a larger group of soldiers who recently returned from deployments to Afghanistan.

[For the record, 9:51 a.m.: An earlier version of this post said the April unemployment rate rose 2%. It rose from 8.8% to 9%.]

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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