INDIANAPOLIS | President Barack Obama told workers at an Indianapolis factory Friday the best way to improve the U.S. economy and reduce high gasoline prices is to invest in American manufacturing of clean energy products.
"I don't want the new breakthrough technologies, the new manufacturing to take place in China and India," Obama said. "I want all those new jobs made in Indiana, right here in the United States of America."
The president spoke for 18 minutes on the factory floor where Allison Transmission soon will expand production of hybrid engines for trucks and buses. The expansion, which is supported by a $63 million federal grant, is expected to create 200 new jobs in the next two years.
Obama said hybrid technology -- as well as biofuels and natural gas -- is essential to meeting his goal of reducing U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025. Tax incentives should be used to encourage new technologies, he said.
"If we're serious about meeting our energy challenge, we have to do more than drill," Obama said.
At the same time, the Democratic president said the United States no longer can afford to give profitable oil companies some $4 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies.
"If you're already paying them at the pump, we don't need to pay them through the tax code," Obama said.
Before speaking to more than 300 Allison employees and Indiana elected officials, Obama toured the sprawling Allison Transmission plant on the west side of Indianapolis.
He later quipped, "I love seeing high-tech machinery like this: I stand there, people explain it to me, and I pretend like I know what they're talking about."
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., who attended Obama's speech, said he was grateful the president would choose to visit Indiana and was impressed by the cleanliness of the manufacturing facilities.
"I would love to see opportunities like this in Northwest Indiana," McDermott said.
Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels greeted Obama as he stepped off Air Force One at the Indianapolis International Airport on Friday morning.
Daniels is expected to announce in a few weeks whether he will mount his own bid for president in 2012, potentially running against Obama if Daniels were to win the GOP nomination.
Obama won Indiana by 28,000 votes in 2008.