President to visit New Orleans

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will visit New Orleans on Friday, Nov. 8, to discuss the economy, the White House confirmed Friday.

The president is planning to discuss the importance of taking measures to grow the economy and create jobs by increasing exports. Additional details of his visit are scarce.

It will be Obama’s first visit to Louisiana since September 2012, when he met with families and local officials dealing with Hurricane Isaac flooding.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has been critical of the president’s policies, said in a statement that he hopes Obama will meet with him during the visit. “I invited the president to Louisiana recently to meet with parents and visit a scholarship school. He never responded. I am renewing the invitation today and hope the president accepts,” Jindal said.

The governor said he wants Obama to explain why the U.S. Department of Justice is challenging Jindal’s program to expand vouchers — the use of taxpayer dollars to pay some of the tuition costs at private schools — for some students attending schools graded C, D and F.

Jindal on Wednesday issued a statement criticizing the Obama administration’s handling of the voucher legal challenge as “a case study on incompetence.”

Louisiana politicians and business leaders also are hoping to bend Obama’s ear about changes in the National Flood Insurance Program that are leading to dramatic increases in the price of flood insurance policies.

The business group helping lead the charge, Greater New Orleans Inc., wrote to Obama on Friday asking the president to administratively delay some of the flood insurance rate hikes. The letter included signatures from the National Association of Counties, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of REALTORS, Independent Community Bankers Association and Community Associations Institute.

“This drastic increase in premiums will cause property values and assessments to drop, bank mortgages to go into default, local tax bases to erode, and economies to be eviscerated,” the letter said.

Members of the Louisiana congressional delegation were not given advance notice of the president’s visit prior to the White House’s release of preliminary information.

Obama’s visit comes at a time when he is advocating for national improvements in the nation’s infrastructure, including importing and exporting capabilities, as well as for increased foreign investments in the U.S.

Obama and Stephen Moret, Louisiana’s economic development secretary, were among the participants Thursday at the first SelectUSA Investment Summit put on by the U.S. Department of Commerce to better link states and local business groups with foreign investors.

Details about the president’s travel plans and speaking engagements are typically kept secret as long as possible for security purposes. At the SelectUSA event, for instance, Obama’s speech on the agenda was listed only as “Remarks by Senior Administration Official.”

The president last visited Louisiana to survey the damage from Hurricane Isaac. He flew into New Orleans, then traveled by motorcade to LaPlace and other St. John the Baptist Parish communities. Jindal accompanied the president.

Obama also spoke at the 2012 National Urban League conference at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. His other visits to Louisiana include ones to mark the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and another to observe oil washing ashore after the BP oil disaster in 2010.

He made his first visit as president to Louisiana in 2009 for a town hall meeting at the University of New Orleans.

More details on the president’s travel are expected to be released by the White House as they become available.

Mark Ballard of the Capitol news bureau contributed to this report.

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