In TuesdayâÄôs State of the Union address, President Barack Obama attempted to extend an olive branch to Republicans. He made few overtly liberal pronouncements and even pledged to support some measures âÄî ending earmarks, reforming medical malpractice suits and freezing spending âÄî that are more red than blue.
But ObamaâÄôs basic point was right: We can âÄúwin the futureâÄù by reinvesting in American innovation and education. As members of Congress prepare for a long, arduous fight over spending cuts and national debt relief, they would be wise to heed the presidentâÄôs call.
On innovation, Obama pledged to increase research and development funding to âÄúa level âÄ¦ we havenâÄôt seen since the height of the Space Race.âÄù This is a measure that will help America keep its standing as the worldâÄôs leader in science and technology fields and will put researchers back to work at this countryâÄôs colleges, universities and private businesses.
Obama also asked America to re-examine its education priorities. He emphasized the Race to the Top program, which Minnesota should apply for again. He called on Americans to consider teaching and asked for a sensible reform of the No Child Left Behind policy. Finally, he asked Congress to extend the $10,000 college tuition tax credit, perhaps a better way to spur job growth than anything else in his speech.
By emphasizing education, Obama has gotten to work on the one of the most basic truths in this country today: A well trained, highly educated work force is key to maintaining and building a strong economy. On this, Democrats and Republicans should find no room for disagreement.