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(Update) Obama Introduces Job Initiatives in Cedar Rapids

In a speech following Obama's State of the Union address, the president spoke to a crowd of over 400 people at Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids.

President Barack Obama promised two new initiatives today, encouraging investing in the U.S. and halting outsourcing. 

Companies are currently rewarded for outsourcing via tax breaks, the president said.

"We need to make it easier for American businesses to do business in America and we need to make it easier to attain the goal I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years," Obama told a crowd a manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids today.

The 30-minute speech to about 400 people on the work floor of Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing was Obama's first chance to fight back in Iowa. He's been bombarded with attacks for months as Republican presidential candidates toured the state while campaigning for the Iowa Caucus.

Take a look at the Patch in Cedar Rapids, and let us know what you think about the visit in comments or if you think Iowa is still an Obama state in our .

Iowa was the first stop of a five-state tour of battleground states, which also includes Michigan, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, following Obama's on Tuesday night. The visit had the look and feel of a campaign rally for the 2012 presidential election.

Obama tied the venue, Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing, to his plans for growing manufacturing and making it easier for such companies to grow, in addition to how to bring exported manufacturing jobs back to U.S. shores.

The White House provided details for six policy initiatives designed to do just that. One, most notably removes tax deductions that cover the cost of a company moving their operations overseas and introduces a tax deductions for companies that want to move their operations back to U.S. soil.

Obama again pushed his tax reform strategy that he calls the Buffet rule, based on an op-ed by Warren Buffet. The investor argued for higher taxes for wealthy Americans like him. Buffet’s secretary paid higher tax rates than him, Obama likes to point out. 

He also took veiled shots at his Republican opponents, whose proposals he said have put many Americans at a disadvantage.

"These are the same polices that have stacked the dice against middle class Americans for years," he said, to raucous applause. "(They say) We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and everyone can play by their own rules." 

Among the piecemeal policy suggestions was another repetition of last night’s State of the Union address: the payroll tax cut. This time he encouraged Iowans in the crowd to support the measure to reduce taxes for “160 million” Americans.

"The American people can’t afford loosing $40 out of every paycheck," he said.

However, in a previous with Patch, two political scientists said many of his policy directives to Congress, which he mentioned during the State of the Union address and hammered in Iowa today, may be a trap for Republicans. If Congress doesn't act on the initiatives, Obama can say he tried but Congress failed during his re-election campaign.

At least one of the more enthusiastic members of then crowd were in full support of Obama’s more aggressive stance towards the Republicans.

Mike Oleson, a 62-year-old union electrician from Cedar Rapids, has campaigned for Obama in the past, and couldn’t be happier that he is taking shots at the other party.

"We’re not going to lay down and take it," he said. "We are going to punch them right in the mouth."

But it all hinges on whether or not these policies jive with the population and the independents that helped get him elected, and, whether or not the American public believe his promises will become policies. 

When asked how he feels about Obama’s speech on jobs and the economy, Jim Hanson 68, from Cedar Rapids, was cautious.

"If he follows through with it, yeah," he said.

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