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Obama State of the Union Heavy on Job Growth, Light on Tech
Source: govtech.com
Source Date: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: United States
Created: Jan 29, 2014

On Jan. 28, President Barack Obama addressed the nation with his State of the Union, a speech that was highly focused on job growth and greater opportunities for our nation going forward, and made only brief mentions of technology.

When speaking of jobs and the economy, the president noted that technology will play a key role in allowing America to outsource fewer jobs and to re-gear the educational system. Tech education programs will help bridge the gap between classroom and workplace, and tech startups and small businesses will play a crucial role in boosting the economy and spurring the innovation that will lead to more jobs at home.

"We ... have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs," he said. "My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies."

During his speech, Obama announced that six more of these hubs will be launched this year, and bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create.  "So get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work," he said.

Innovation was another topic of the evening. "We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender," he said, adding that federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. And that, he said, is why Congress should "undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery..."

In 2013, the President pledged to connect 99 percent of students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. During his address, he announced that 'with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit."

When it comes to surveillance, Obama mentioned briefly that along with Congress, he will reform the nation's surveillance programs – "because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated." He also he has imposed "prudent limits on the use of drones," he said.

When the issue of health care arose, the president planted one step firmly away from the direction of his troubled online portal, HealthCare.gov. Instead, the president focused on the Americans who are receiving care and insurance coverage from the new system, one of whom was in attendance. Obama shared her story and also told other anecdotes throughout the night supporting his areas of emphasis. The president addressed Republicans directly and said that he knows they don’t like his health-care policy, but suggested that if they didn’t like it, they should come up with a better solution.

The president ended on a positive note -- on a rising America "where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong, where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us – none of it is easy. But if we work together, if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow – I know it’s within our reach. Believe it. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

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