JACKSONVILLE -- President Barack Obama continued his economics road show Thursday, coming to the Jacksonville Port Authority to underscore his commitment to infrastructure investment and bash Republicans for delaying progress.
The president chose Jacksonville because the port is home to two port development projects he fast tracked last year as the U.S. Congress delayed action and he vowed to continue to use his executive powers in the months ahead if Congress won't act.
"Where I could act on my own, I'll act on my own," he told the crowd of about 500 at the port's steamy passenger terminal. "Because the choices we make right now will determine whether or not every American will have a fighting chance."
The president focused his criticism on the Republican-controlled House and pointed to its failure to pass a water resource bill that would provide the authorization to allow Jaxport to deepen the Mile Point channel it needs to allow large cargo ships coming from Asia.
"We need modern ports so we could move more goods made in America out to the
rest of the world," he said in his 26-minute speech, noting the manufacturing jobs are key cornerstones of the American Dream and "too many folks in Washington have been cutting these investments."
As the president bashed Congress, the Republican Party of Florida and the governor bashed the governor. Party chairman Lenny Curry held a news conference before the president's arrival and Gov. Rick Scott sent out a statement bashing the federal corporate tax policy.
"High taxes hurt job creation, plain and simple," said Scott in a statement from Aspen, Colo., where he is attending a meeting of the Republican Governor's Association. "If the president wants to turn around our national economy as we have turned around the economy in Florida, he should follow Florida's lead and cut the federal corporate income tax so more manufacturers and businesses can invest and create jobs."
Before the president's speech, he and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx were given a tour of a container terminal owned and operated by the largest shipping company in Japan, Mitsui OSK Lines.
The president sounded the same themes and cribbed many of the same lines from the two speeches he gave Wednesday in Illinois and Missouri, emphasizing the need to build the country "from the middle class up" and vowing to devote the remainder of his term -- "1,266 days" -- to the goal.
"New super tankers are going to start coming through the Panama Canal, which can hold three times the amount of cargo," he said. "We want those super tankers coming here to Jacksonville," he said to applause. "If we've got more super tankers, that means more jobs, more contractors, more money to spend at the restaurant and that means the waitress has more money to spend on her iPod."