Obama heads to Wisconsin (!)

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mock-up of the Milwaukee high-speed rail station

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) It caught our eye that -- a day after proposing a vast increase in high speed rail -- President Obama is heading to Wisconsin today, the state where the Governor won on a platform of no high speed rail. Coincidence? Mild Rebuke? Your thoughts, please.

Here's the press release:

President Obama – White House to Main Street Tour, Manitowoc, Wisconsin on Wednesday:

On Wednesday, January 26, 2011, President Barack Obama will take the “White House to Main Street Tour” to Manitowoc, WI, where he will continue his conversation with American families and workers about rebuilding an economy that ensures America’s long-term economic competitiveness and guarantees that America and its people continue to lead in the future.

The President will tour Orion Energy Systems, a power technology company that designs, manufactures and deploys energy efficiency and renewable energy technology for commercial and industrial business, and deliver remarks on the economy to employees. In 2004, Orion shifted their manufacturing operations to Manitowoc, WI where they now employ over 250 employees and anticipate growing to more than 300 employees by the end of 2011.

The President will then tour Skana Aluminum Company, an aluminum manufacturer and rolling mill. Skana opened in 2010 and continues a long history of aluminum manufacturing in the Wisconsin Lakeshore area. Skana currently has over 70 employees and expects to reach 100 employees in 2011, with plans to fill approximately 15 positions for a second shift by the end of January.

The President will also tour Broadwind Towers (Tower Tech Systems), a wind turbine tower manufacturer. Tower Tech Systems opened in 2003 in Manitowoc and since that time has grown to over 300 employees.

Companies like the ones the President is visiting and middle-class families in places like Manitowoc have benefitted from the President’s efforts to support growth and job creation, including through the package of tax cuts and unemployment insurance he signed last month and the Small Business Jobs Act signed last fall. For example:

· Incentives to Support Investments in Renewable Energy: The bill the President signed in December included an extension of the 1603 grant program, which provides incentives for the production of renewable energy like wind and solar. For example, some of Orion’s customers have benefited from this program, supporting demand for its products.

· Tax Cuts to Encourage Businesses to Make New Investment: The bill the President signed includes provisions that encourage businesses to make new investments that will support growth and job creation. Under the bill, businesses – large and small – are now able to immediately expense 100% of investments they make in new machinery from September 2010 through the end of this year. For example, companies like Tower Tech Systems that plan to make capital investments this year as demand increases will be able to immediately expense 100% of these investments as they seek to expand and create new jobs.

· Efforts to Help Small Businesses Get Access to the Credit They Need to Expand and Hire: The President has supported efforts to ensure that creditworthy small businesses can access the loans they need to expand and hire. The Small Business Jobs Act he signed last September included measures the President proposed – including an extension of successful Recovery Act provisions to boost Small Business Administration (SBA) lending, an expansion of the maximum SBA 7(a) loan to $5 million, and the creation of two new programs, a Small Business Lending Fund and a State Small Business Credit Initiative, to boost private-sector lending to small businesses. Skana Aluminum has benefitted from these provisions by taking out a $5 million loan with a 90 percent SBA guarantee in December.

· Tax Cuts to Support Middle Class Families: The bill the President signed in December – in addition to preventing the middle class tax cuts from expiring, which would have increased taxes by $3,000 for a typical working family – included several tax cuts that help middle-class families across the country. For a family with the median household income of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin – about $51,000 – these provisions the President fought for could provide significant savings. For example, the 2% payroll tax cut could result in savings of about $1,020 for the typical Manitowoc family this year. If that family sent a child to college, they could be eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit – a tax cut initially passed under the Recovery Act and extended under the recent bill he signed that is worth up to $2,500 per year of college.