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Obama State of the Union 2011: US must 'win the future' through innovation

In the Obama State of the Union 2011 address Tuesday, the president says innovation and education should be at the center of efforts to strengthen the American economy.

By Staff writer / January 26, 2011

President Obama shakes hands with Speaker of the House John Boehner as he arrives to deliver his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday.

Jim Young/Reuters

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Washington

President Obama on Tuesday night delivered a State of the Union address focused on creating American jobs by fostering innovation and encouraging industry.

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With the 2012 campaign looming on the horizon, it was a speech that seemed to reflect one of former President Clinton’s famous political credos: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Among other things, Mr. Obama called for cutting corporate taxes, spreading high-speed Internet to all corners of the nation, and boosting spending on research, technology, and education in an effort to keep the US ahead of China, Europe, and other economic competitors.

“We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer,” said Obama.

What America does better than any other nation is to spark the creativity and imagination of its people, said the president. The US is the nation that put cars in the world’s driveways and computers on the world’s desks; it’s the nation of Edison and the Wright Brothers and Google and Facebook.

“Innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living,” Obama said.

In fact, Obama spent so much time talking about the need to revitalize the economy, build US infrastructure, and bolster national competitiveness that the US Chamber of Commerce gave the speech qualified support.

“While there will be differences on how to achieve these goals, we must find enough common ground to ensure America’s greatness into the 21st century,” said Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas Donahue in response to the State of the Union.

A new political reality

Of course, the context of Tuesday’s speech is far different than that faced by the administration prior to Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections. With the GOP in control of the House, the White House knows that its era of powering legislation through Congress is over. In the wake of the sobering attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) of Arizona, both parties are toning down their political rhetoric.

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