Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union '06 - On Competitiveness & Education ...

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people - and we are going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

This is something that should've risen to the top of the Executive's agenda since he took office in 2001. There is little here that one can really oppose, because it is a reasonable request ...

First: I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next ten years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life - and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Here, again, the dreaded tax cut. Not because we fear a tax cut or suggest that irresponsible, runaway and mismanaged federal spending is the answer - but, because it's such a tired talking point. What's needed is much more than a "tax credit" that simply encourages "investment"; there is a desperate, urgent need to recognize that we must invest in R&D on a large scale. Leaving this to a "tax credit" absolves the government from its obligation to invest in R&D.

Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country.

Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.