As most recent presidents have done, President Barack Obama hit the road to rally public support for his State of the Union wish list from the night before. But a lot of pieces are still missing.
The first stop on the three-day campaign-like swing was a once-shuttered auto-parts factory near Asheville, N.C. where Obama sought to emphasize what he suggests is a renaissance in American manufacturing.
"America's getting more competitive and more productive," he told the factory workers. "And after shedding jobs for more than ten years, our manufacturers have now added about 500,000 jobs over the last three years."
He made the same claim the night before in his nationally broadcast address to a joint House-Senate session.
What Obama failed to note in both speeches was that there has still been a net reduction of 600,000 manufacturing jobs since he took office. Also, the spurt in manufacturing growth he cited has recently all but stalled.
Obama has been highly selective in cherry-picking his statistics to put the best face possible on an economy that remains weak with stubbornly high unemployment.
The president outlined an expansive second-term agenda focused on job creation, more spending on public works projects, clean energy, attacking climate change, passing legislation to curb gun violence and raising the federal minimum wage to $9 by 2015 from $7.25 today.
"Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime," he said Tuesday night.
But that's hard to verify since Obama has not yet submitted a new federal budget outlining specific spending proposals.
Under law, he was to have submitted one earlier this month. But he has delayed the budget submission until mid-March, blaming the postponement on economic uncertainties due to a series of self-inflicted fiscal deadlines and crises.
While predicting a resurgence of manufacturing, the president also asserted the American public is tired of "manufactured crises" in Washington.
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