Democratic presidential-hopeful John Kerry concluded his
“Jobs First” bus tour Wednesday afternoon at Washtenaw
Community College and presented the final piece of his economic
improvement plan.

Because of large job losses and its historic role as an
automobile manufacturer, Michigan is a fitting finish for
Kerry’s Midwest campaign. Since mid-2000, Michigan has lost
136,000 manufacturing jobs, making it one of the largest job losers
in the nation.

“In Michigan, it’s the most urgent issue on
people’s mind. Part of the challenge will be if jobs will be
the largest issue, where Kerry is very strong,” said John
Austin, a member of the State Board of Education. “The
President wants this to be just about the war on terror because
he’s ignored jobs.”

Kerry began introducing his economic plans last month at Wayne
State University, where he promised to create ten million new jobs
in his first four years as president. Since then, Kerry has been
touring the country and revealing the details of his plan.

Wednesday’s speech outlined the third and final pillar of
the plan, which deals with job outsourcing, the need for increased
competition and a desired investment in the future of manufacturing
education.

“These wouldn’t be your grandfathers manufacturing
jobs or your father’s,” Kerry said.

Instead his plan would create high-tech jobs by training
students to work with advanced technologies such as robotics and
new plastics that could be used in many applications, including
renewable energy systems and next-generation automobiles.

“I’m here because I believe manufacturing should not and
must not be a ghost of America’s past,” said Kerry.
“I’m here because I believe a setback is just that – a
setback. Not a reason to abandon ship.”

Kerry also revealed his “College Opportunity Tax
Credit” plan, which will provide a $4,000 tax credit each
year for university students. He hopes this will make college
“universally accessible” and help America become more
competitive in 21st century technological fields.

“A job is more than a way to make money — it’s
a way of life,” said Kerry. “If we work together,
manufacturing can come back and shine as never before.”

Kerry has attacked the issue of job outsourcing and labeled
companies who pursue overseas locations as “Benedict
Arnold” companies. His economic plan would cut most corporate
taxes by five percent and provide additional cuts for hiring
American workers. These policies, Kerry says, will prevent
outsourcing and increase competition.

“I’ve seen (outsourcing) happen in my
industry,” said Phil Harding, a computer salesman.
“Dell computers just outsourced its whole technical support
overseas. I think it’s a big problem for blue color
workers.”

Harding also added that Bush only pays “lip service”
to jobs and believes Kerry cares more.

“I think he can make a really positive difference,”
Harding said.

Additionally, Kerry wants to provide incentives for corporations
that enforce current trade agreements to give Americans a
“fair playing field” in the world.

“We have a leadership that doesn’t even think outsourcing
is a problem. In fact, for the last several years, that has been
the centerpiece of their strategy to make America more
competitive,” Kerry said. “I have an alternative vision
which is making America a more attractive place to create more jobs
at better wages.”

Since the beginning of the primary season, Kerry has criticized
Bush’s tax cuts as counter-productive to economic
stimulation. Today however, Kerry added that his economic plan
provides a tax cut for 98 percent of Americans and 99 percent of
corporations who employ American workers.

“I certainly think Kerry is will be strong on jobs,
whereas George Bush has virtually ignored the state and believes
tax cuts will solve any economic problem,” said Austin.

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