President's comments on AL's Airbus plant spark controversy - | WBTV Charlotte

President's comments on AL's Airbus plant spark controversy


Did President Barack Obama really take credit for landing the first United States assembly plant for Airbus, the European aviation company?

If you speak with US House Representative Jo Bonner, R – Mobile, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R – Alabama, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R – Alabama, that's exactly what they'll tell you.

In statements and comments following the President's speech on the economy earlier in the week, they argued that President Obama was only a "hindrance" to the Airbus negotiation, and that the company picked Alabama despite his policies.

Sen. Shelby said the President has only brought on job hurting policies like taxes and regulations.

"That's not what creates jobs in this country. That's not what brings foreign direct investment" Sen. Shelby said.

When reading President Obama's comments in context, it's not as cut and dry. The comments about Airbus came during a string of references to companies that have grown in America over the past few years.

"Add it all up, and over the past 40 months, our businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs. This year, we are off to our strongest private-sector job growth since 1999," Obama said. "And because we bet on this country, foreign companies are, too. Right now, more of Honda's cars are made in America than anywhere else. Airbus will build new planes in Alabama."

During Airbus' groundbreaking in Mobile last April, the company's CEO, Fabrice Bregier, told reporters that the company had its eyes on America for years. He even said that the company would be viewed as "An American company" if it built planes in the United States.

Bregier also added that Airbus' parent company, EADS, had developed a strong relationship with the state during its failed bid to build tankers for the Pentagon in a highly controversial competition with rival Boeing.

"We know Mobile, we know Alabama for about eight years because it supported us during the US tanker competition and so we have built a relationship which helps us trust each other so we know that this is a very long-term partnership" Bregier said back in April.

He also added that economic incentives were necessary to secure the Airbus project, and that the company could have gotten them from other states. Alabama provided more than $150 million in incentives which included workforce training and development and infrastructure improvements to area surrounding Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile. 

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