Obama's "Sputnik moment"

What Obama will do in his State of the Union speech tonight:

— Using the tragedy in Tucson to call for cooperation across the aisle — as much a message to his own supporters opposed to Clintonian “triangulation” as to Republicans.

“We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.”

— Call for policies to support innovation:

“Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.”

— Lament disappearing manufacturing jobs and raise the competitive threat of China and India (but not Canada) as an argument for government spending on alternative energy sources and on public infrastructure — such as high speed rail and broadband.

“I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

“So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.”

— Emphasize education (not only as a key to future innovation and competitiveness, but also because he may have political space to work with Republicans to pass legislation on education reform.)

— Call for reform of the tax code — to get rid of loopholes and reduce the corporate tax rate. Argue that Congress should not make permanent the tax cuts for the richest Americans that have been extended.

— Call for a freeze on domestic spending:

“…I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.”







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