President Barack Obama tells Matt Smith of Action 2 News in an exclusive, one-on-one interview that Wisconsin plays an important role in the nation's economic recovery.
"You're seeing the kind of steady progress that I think Wisconsinites and folks all across America are looking for," the president says.
President Obama says investments in rural businesses have helped drive job growth in states like Wisconsin. Agriculture and other industries have grown in recent years, with many able to withstand the recession.
The Obama Administration says it is helping to create jobs in rural communities through programs like the Small Business Investment Company, which has driven $20 million in investment capital into Wisconsin and $400 million nationwide.
President Obama points to Wisconsin companies like Quick Cable Corporation, API Health Care Group, and Polymer Technology Company which have added jobs or saved jobs in the state.
Wisconsin is no stranger to the jobs debate, and the nation is coming off its third bad jobs report, so our conversation went to, who can help create jobs?
Smith: Given the recent jobs reports, why should Wisconsinites believe any proposal coming from the Administration?
President Obama: The truth of the matter is that we've seen significant progress in manufacturing. For example, there are a whole bunch of auto plants that wouldn't be open if we had not intervened and workers and management hadn't gotten together to revitalize the auto industry. The last time I was in Wisconsin, I was in Milwaukee at Master Lock that's starting to bring back jobs from overseas. The first kind of in-sourcing in quite some time. So you're seeing the kind of steady progress that I think Wisconsinites and folks all across America are looking for.
We wanted to turn to the debate over health care. This could become a campaign issue. Wisconsin is one of the states challenging the health care reform law at the Supreme Court, which could issue a ruling this month.
Smith: For you, if a state says, hey look, we can do this better at the state level, why not let them?
President Obama: "Look, the truth of the matter is any state that wants to work with us to find ways to which they can provide insurance to people with pre-existing conditions, for example, we are open to their ideas and they can come up with better ideas. What we don't want is a situation where a state says, 'We're going to leave millions of people without health insurance,' and then they'll come to the E.R. and ultimately you and others who have health insurance then have to pay for it.
So states have an enormous flexibility under the Health Care Law. For example, you've got a state like Massachusetts which is doing it one way, a state like Utah that's doing it another way. Both those states are working with the Federal Government in a constructive way.
I think what you don't want is folks who say we just don't care about millions of people who are uninsured. Because frankly, one way or another, somebody else winds up picking up the tab, whether it is the U.S. government through Medicaid or Medicare, or it is people with health insurance paying for folks who don't get health insurance.
The Mitt Romney camp is, of course, campaigning on a promise to repeal the law and issue waivers to states immediately.
Action 2 News was invited to sit along with the White House press corps. First off, the briefings are in a tiny room filled with reporters -- a room filled with a lot of history, actually.
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