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September 22, 09

NEWS / Obama Says U.S. Economy Must Build on Innovation

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — As the U.S. economy emerges from the deepest crisis since the Great Depression, the great challenge now will be to ensure that the country does not drift into the future by accepting less than its full potential, says President Obama.

“We have to choose instead what past generations have done, to shape a brighter future through hard work and innovation,” Obama said in a September 21 speech at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York. To be competitive in a global economy, the United States must be strong enough to avoid the economic cycles of boom and bust, and strong enough to create and support the jobs of the future and the industries of the future, he said.

The president’s speech comes three days before leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies meet at the Pittsburgh Summit. Among the central issues to be discussed by the world leaders will be the way ahead as the global economy emerges from the recession, and what regulatory elements are needed to help prevent similar economic crises in the future.

Part of the president’s innovation strategy builds on more than $100 billion from the 2009 America Recovery and Reinvestment Act that supports innovation, education and infrastructure, and from the president’s budget and regulatory and executive-order initiatives, the White House said in a statement. Obama pushed a $787 billion stimulus plan through Congress in February aimed at bolstering the U.S. economy with targeted tax cuts, expansion of unemployment benefits, funding for the energy sector and social welfare spending, as well as spending for education, health care and infrastructure.

According to the White House the innovation strategy has three parts:

• Ensure the economy receives the human, physical and technological tools needed to perform research and development and to transfer innovations.

• Promote competitive markets that create a national environment for the entrepreneurship and risk taking that allow U.S. companies to be internationally competitive.

• Catalyze breakthroughs for national priorities that include developing alternative energy sources, reducing costs and improving lives with health information technology, and manufacturing advanced vehicles.

Obama said the strategy is not designed only to boost an economic recovery and return the U.S. economy to where it was; it is also designed to provide sustained growth and more widely diverse prosperity. A significant aspect of the strategy is expanding educational opportunity for more Americans and expanding the number of college graduates in the United States, he said.

“We know that the nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow,” Obama said. “The ability of new industries to thrive depends on workers with the knowledge and the know-how to contribute in those fields.”

Obama said he has set a goal that by 2020 the United States will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. To help reach that objective, the federal government will increase educational grant programs and simplified tax credits for college tuition, he said. Also, new funding is being used to help U.S. soldiers obtain college educations, he said.




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