President Barack Obama will be in Macon Wednesday as a part of his “White House to Main Street” tour. The White House says the President is focusing on issues in rural communities during his two-day, three-state tour of the Midwest.
After three stops in Iowa Tuesday, President Obama will speak to workers at the Poet Biorefining Plant just outside of Macon Wednesday afternoon. On a conference call with reporters, White House spokesman Jen Psaki says the President won’t really be bringing out anything new with his remarks Wednesday afternoon.
“This is not a policy roll out. It is to talk about the challenges and shed some light on some challenges that people in rural communities and really Main Street communities are facing. What we have done already, what we still want to do, what we propose doing. As well as some of the issues that will likely impact these communities in hopefully a positive way that they may not think would have anything to do with them,” Psaki said.
White House economic adviser Christina Romer says an example of that is the stimulus plan. She says rural communities likely saw in impact when the plan offered help to small businesses, developed plans to extend broadband into rural areas, and created renewable energy credits. Also, she says, health care reform has significant implications for the 50 million Americans living in rural areas, on top of the traditional issues.
“How do you strengthen all of rural America? A big piece of that is of course agriculture and dealing with things like increasing our exports that’s gonna be good for agricultural communities. Revamping our farm support programs is going to be important,” Romer said.
Psaki says President Obama chose the Poet Biorefining Plant to represent the other clean energy facilities across the country that the administration has big plans for in the future. The visit comes at an interesting time, however, as the production of biodiesel has nearly come to a standstill in the US this year.
In January, a one dollar per gallon tax credit for producers of biodiesel expired, and a similar credit for ethanol is scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. A reporter on the conference call asked Romer what significance the President attaches to that expired tax credit.
“I think that’s getting more technical than I’m probably qualified to talk about. I think the important thing, of course, is just how important the renewable fuel standard is as the overarching, organizing principal in terms of creating a demand for biofuels,” Romer said.
The tax credit had previously been renewed by congress every year since 2004. The House and Senate have each passed a version of a renewal that could end up being retroactive to the beginning of 2010. But it’s stalled until the differences between the bills can be resolved.
The President will also be paying a visit to a family on the farm in Macon after the stop at Poet. He’ll then head to Quincy, Illinois; the final stop on this trip.
The White House has also released a 42-page report to coincide with this tour, entitled, “Strengthening the Rural Economy”