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Published: Tuesday, 7/29/2008

Bush uses Ohio plant as backdrop to push oil drilling, tout other sources of energy

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

EUCLID, Ohio President George W. Bush Tuesday used a speech at a northeastern Ohio manufacturer of welding equipment to push domestic oil drilling, nuclear power, and other sources of energy as part of the answer to the country s "uncertain times."

"We need to send a clear signal to the world: We re tired of being dependent on oil from overseas," he said. "Let s find it here in the United States of America."

After touring the plant and a 25-minute speech to about 500 employees at Lincoln Electric Co, he was off to raise cash for Republican congressional candidate coffers at a $10,000 to $25,000 per-person reception at the suburban Gates Mills home of well-connected insurance executive Umberto Fedeli.

Lincoln s plants in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid manufacture welding equipment and related materials, some of it used in international energy production.

The company, which touts itself as "The Welding Capital of the World" has done well and has continued to expand and pay profit-based bonuses to employees despite the downturn seen in the auto industry and other sectors of Ohio heavy manufacturing.

"I ve worked hard to keep your taxes low," Mr. Bush said. "Our energy policies haven t done a very good job of keeping your energy prices low.

"It s like a tax Gasoline prices have negated a lot of those tax cuts. Our economy is facing uncertainty There is no such thing as a quick fix," the president said. "If I had a magic wand, I d wave it. It took us a while to get in this position, and it s going to take a while to get out of it."

He called on Congress to follow his lead in permitting more oil exploration off U.S. shores and in Alaska, noting that he recently repealed his father s executive order forbidding expanded off-shore drilling. He called for more nuclear energy production along with solar and wind power.

He repeatedly noted that Lincoln manufactures many of the products used in the sources of energy he was promoting, relating the issue directly to jobs.

"There s a dividend," he said. "The more oil here in the United States takes pressure off gasoline prices, and continues good jobs at companies like Lincoln Electric."

While Lincoln continues to expand, Ohio s statewide economic picture has worsened. The state s seasonally adjusted jobless rate jumped from 6.3 percent to 6.6 percent in June while the national unemployment rate remained stagnant at 5.5 percent.

On Monday, the White House predicted a $482 billion deficit for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, a record that will be inherited by either fellow Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama on Jan. 20.

Mr. Bush inherited a budget surplus from President Bill Clinton in 2001, but that predated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the recent issuance of tax rebate checks to simulate the economy.

Mr. McCain has attempted to distance himself from the Bush budgets, decrying spending while embracing and calling for an expansion of the Bush tax cuts. Mr. Obama, meanwhile, has called for rolling back some of the Bush tax cuts on wealthier Americans while also proposing new spending programs.



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