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January 28, 2010

Obama Takes On The Economy

Policy: State of the Union address focuses on jobs, innovation to further recovery

Jeff Johnson and Susan R. Morrissey

SPEAKING TO THE NATION Obama delivered his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as Vice President Joseph Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applaud. Tim Sloan/UPI/Pool/Newscom
Tim Sloan/UPI/Pool/Newscom
SPEAKING TO THE NATION Obama delivered his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as Vice President Joseph Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applaud.
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In his first State of the Union address, President Barack Obama focused on stabilizing and growing the nation's economy by investing in people and innovation.

"We need to invest in the skills and education of our people," the President said during his 70-minute speech on Jan. 27. This investment is needed to ensure the U.S.'s global competitiveness, which Obama tied to innovation, jobs, and education—particularly in the area of energy and clean technology infrastructure.

"There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products," he said, promising to further federal energy incentives to "put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs."

The President also stressed China's and Germany's emphasis on math and science education and their willingness to spend for infrastructure improvements. "They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America," he said.

This Administration has made the largest investment in basic research funding in history—investments, Obama said, that could lead to the "world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched."

"No area," he continued, "is more ripe for innovation than energy." The President singled out his Administration's support for research and manufacture of advanced batteries, biofuels, clean-coal technologies, and solar panels, but he also called for greater development of nuclear power and offshore oil and gas resources.

His speech made no mention of carbon dioxide cap and trade. Instead, he urged passage of a comprehensive energy and climate bill with "incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America."

"I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change," Obama continued. "But here's the thing: Even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation."

Reaction to the President's address ranged from applause for providing a road map to criticism for delivering just another good speech.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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