President Obama to speak at Liberty Ford Plant Friday

LIBERTY, Mo. - President Barack Obama will be in Liberty Friday using Ford's recently expanded auto plant to tout the improving economy.

President Obama is expected to speak in front of employees, media and politicians at Ford's stamping plant as he highlights the progress Americans have made since the beginning of the financial crisis and the work that lies ahead.

It wasn't long ago that the workers at Ford's Claycomo plant worried it would close. Ford moved production of the Escape to Louisville, Ky., and employees were wondering how the plant would survive.

Now the president will use the Liberty and Claycomo plants as examples of what he believes is the recovery of the economy. He will also highlight Missouri's position in the rebirth of the American auto industry.

Ford has invested $1 billion to bring in new equipment to build a new full-sized van, add a third shift and 900 new jobs.

Gov. Jay Nixon and Sen. Claire Mccaskill will join the president at Friday's event.

Back in 2009, Governor Nixon took a risk and signed the auto jobs task force, which Nixon believes paid off.

Nixon told 41 Action News earlier this week that he's hopeful auto suppliers will consider bringing their business to the Kansas City area.

Meanwhile, the president is also expected to talk about a new initiative to help the middle class. Chris Butler, a Kansas City economist we spoke with, said despite the addition of 7.5 million new jobs nationwide, the middle class is still feeling the pinch of the recovering economy.

"The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index is actually showing the widest gap between the rich and the poor in terms of comfort since 2005, and I think a lot of that also has to do with Federal Reserve policies that have been supporting financial assets, and again it's the wealthy," Butler explained.

He also explained that the United States' gross domestic product index isn't ideal.

"An economy is usually measured by its gross domestic product or GDP. We're used to seeing our GDP grow about 3 percent after inflation, and right now it's tracking at about 1.5 percent, so we're about half of where we need to be, so we're a little weak right now," Butler explained.

Air Force One will land at K.C.I. around 11:20 a.m.

President Obama will spend less than 3 hours in Kansas City, and his visit is not open to the public.

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