A bipartisan recipe for American competitiveness
Obama lists three key ingredients to improve America competitiveness: better schools, innovation, and infrastructure. Republicans cite the same list. Can they cook up something together?
President Obama was at it again, walking a factory floor – today, it was General Electric – and talking about how to make America more competitive. He usually names three requirements: better education, innovation, and infrastructure. Who can argue with that list?Skip to next paragraph
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No one, which makes this trio of economy-boosting necessities a good place to start for a common-ground agenda between Republicans and Democrats in the new – and divided – Congress.
The GOP-controlled House voted this week to repeal the Democrats’ signature health-care law, but Republicans, too, underscore the need to improve in these three jobs-building areas. President Obama can get the bipartisan ball rolling by laying out specifics in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, a speech that’s bound to emphasize working with the other side as a result of the November elections.
Adding to this possibility of a bipartisan agenda is all the unfinished business in Congress. Large programs for highways, bridges, transit, and air travel need to be authorized. They’ve been limping along on short-term funding extensions.
In education, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) awaits reauthorization. Passed in 2001, the bipartisan act aimed to make all public school students proficient in reading and math by 2014 – an unrealistic target, but the kind of goal the nation needs to be globally competitive.
America still has an innovation edge globally. But businesses worry that the country isn’t holding onto foreigners who come to study at US universities or investing enough federal dollars in research and development. The US is behind Europe and China on alternative energy and high-speed rail.
But while Republicans and Democrats may broadly agree that America needs to restore crumbling bridges and move more kids to the head of the class, they still differ on how to get this done.
The federal budget crisis has sharpened those differences.