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Published: Wednesday, 9/21/2011

Biden stumps for jobs plan

Vice president visits Cleveland-area warehouse


Policy in one hand, politics in the other, Vice President Joe Biden brought a two-fisted sales pitch to Cleveland yesterday.

In suburban Solon, he heralded a growing packing-supplies warehouse as the type of company that can flourish if Congress passes President Obama's $447 billion jobs plan. He also announced a new lending initiative involving 13 large banks that have agreed to increase small-business loans by a combined $20 billion over the next three years.

And in nearby Shaker Heights, at the home of a real estate executive, Mr. Biden helped raise money -- at least $1,000 a head -- for Mr. Obama and other Democrats.

While speaking at Wrap Tite Inc., which makes and distributes packaging materials such as plastic shrink wrap, the vice president cast himself as a crusader for the middle class.

"It's in the interest of the very wealthy and the very poor that the middle class does very well, because it is the engine," Mr. Biden said. "Without the middle class doing well, there's no products to buy, the wealthy don't have much to sell … and the poor don't have a ladder up."

Mr. Biden toured Wrap Tite with Karen Mills, chief of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The firm used a $1.5 million SBA loan to buy and renovate its headquarters. Wrap Tite has grown from 17 employees to 22 in the last year, officials said.

GOP leaders, as they did last week when Mr. Obama went to Columbus to promote the plan, dismissed Mr. Biden's visit.

"After failing to create a single job last month, Vice President Biden's campaign visit to Ohio shows that the White House is concerned about one job and one job only: President Obama's," Republican National Committee spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said in an email.

But Mr. Biden's speech received a kinder reception from one Republican in attendance. Brian Reis, whom Mr. Biden singled out as a beneficiary of an SBA loan, runs the 91-year-old family-owned Ballreich Bros. potato chip company in Tiffin. It has expanded its distribution network as a result of the loan. Mr. Reis described himself afterward as having an open mind, adding, "I'm very supportive of anything that helps us as a country."

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