WYSO

The President's Week Ends On A Productive Note

Jun 25, 2011
Originally published on June 25, 2011 10:25 am
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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Mr. Obama went to Pittsburgh to stress the importance of making U.S. factories more competitive. But churning out more products at lower costs wasn't the only thing on the president's mind as he toured the National Robotics Engineering Center.

BARACK OBAMA: One of my responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief, is to keep an eye on robots.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: And I'm pleased to report that the robots you manufacture here seem peaceful.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: At least for now.

HORSLEY: Far from displacing workers, Greenblatt says, the robots in his factory have made those workers more valuable, so he's been able to hire more of them.

DREW GREENBLATT: You can't compete with your employees having equipment equal to the Chinese or the Mexicans, you have to have equipment that's far superior. And the way to make our employees like Superman, and give them super powers, is to allow them robot technology so that they can much more productive, much more efficient, much higher quality.

HORSLEY: Before traveling to Pittsburgh, Mr. Obama stopped in New York City for a series of political fundraisers. One was focused on the city's gay and lesbian community.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: President Obama will be coming out soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

PATRICK HARRIS: Out on stage. Calm down, people.

HORSLEY: The president disappointed some in the audience when he failed to endorse same- sex marriage, but he urged marriage supporters to keep the pressure on, including the pressure on him.

OBAMA: Look, that's the power of our democratic system. It's not always pretty. There are setbacks, there are frustrations. But in grappling with tough and at times emotional issues in legislatures and in courts and at the ballot box - and yes, around the dinner table, and in the office hallways, and sometimes even in the oval office - slowly but surely we find the way forward.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama says trying to close the budget gap with spending cuts alone would eliminate important investments.

OBAMA: I'm not going to sacrifice clean energy at a time when our dependence on foreign oil has caused Americans so much pain at the pump. That doesn't make any sense.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: In other words, I will not sacrifice America's future.

HORSLEY: The President plans to pull 10,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan this year, and another 23,000 by next summer.

OBAMA: This is the beginning, but not the end of our effort to wind down this war.

HORSLEY: Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.