HAMPTON, Va.— President Barack Obama is employing the services of the first lady on the final leg of his three-day bus tour as they tout proposals in the president's jobs bill that the White House says would put more of the nation's unemployed veterans back to work.
During a joint appearance Wednesday before airmen and soldiers at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, the president and his wife, Michelle, also were to announce a deal with the private sector to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses. The White House said the American Logistics Association, which includes major companies like Tyson Foods Inc. and Coca-Cola Co., is aiming to meet that goal by the end of 2013.
"We ask our men and women in uniform to leave their careers, leave their families and risk their lives to fight for our country," Obama said in a statement released ahead of the event. "The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home."
The first lady has been a champion of veterans and military family issues since her husband won the White House. In a statement, she said engaging the business community is part of an effort to tap into "all that good will that's out there, all across America, in every sector of society, and channeling it into meaningful action that's a win-win for everyone."
As Obama has been traveling through North Carolina and Virginia this week, lawmakers back in Washington were taking the first steps to break his nearly $450 billion jobs bill into pieces for possible votes. It's the only way elements of the measure stand a chance of passing, given that Senate Republicans blocked action on the full package last week.
The bus trip has given the president the opportunity to promote elements of his jobs plan in places the White House says would benefit most should the measures pass. Obama has spoken at high schools and community colleges where the administration says new spending would prevent teacher layoffs, as well as a small, regional area airport near Asheville, N.C., where Obama pressed for government funds to renovate an outdated runway.
Wednesday's stops were to follow a similar pattern.
During his remarks at the military facility Wednesday, Obama was expected to single out a provision in his jobs bill that calls for new tax credits for businesses that hire veterans and wounded troops. He's proposed a Returning Heroes tax credit of up to $5,600 for businesses that hire unemployed veterans who have been out of work for six months or more, as well as a Wounded Warriors tax credit of nearly $10,000 for unemployed veterans with service-related disabilities who also have been looking for work for at least six months.
From there, Obama will get back in his imposing, million-dollar bus for a three-hour drive to North Chesterfield, Va., where he was to speak at a local fire station. He's trying to rally support for the first piece of the jobs bill Senate Democrats plan to take up, a $35 billion package of assistance for state and local governments aimed at keeping firefighters, as well as police officers and teachers, on the job.
The president's lengthy drive could give him an opportunity to make unscheduled stops along the way. In his first two days on the road, Obama stopped by barbecue and candy businesses, plus a classroom at a high school in rural Skipwith, Va.
With the presidential election just over a year away, the stops have given Obama a chance to make personal appeals for his policies — and his re-election — to voters in two Southern states that are sure to play a significant role in 2012.
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