State of the Union tonight. The administration seems to have concluded that we are engaged in a global fight for jobs: "the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real." The NYT even makes the "Global Fight for US Jobs" its online headline. It is all very weird; as they used to say, :this is where I came in. The meme even has Paul Krugman returning to arguments that pulled him from academic obscurity into the punditocracy.
Mr. Obama outlined initiatives in five areas: innovation; education; infrastructure; streamlining the federal bureaucracy and cutting the deficit. He pledged to increase the nation’s spending on research and development, as a share of the total economy, to the highest levels since John F. Kennedy was president, and vowed to prepare an additional 100,000 science and math teachers by the end of the next decade.I might point out that the FY 2010 budget, called "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise" (without a touch of irony), totaled $3.55 trillion. The military's share was approximately $600 billion plus the cost of overseas contingency operations. Trimming $15 billion from that per year is not really a huge reduction, especially as the US winds down its commitment of troops and material to Afghanistan.
He proposed new efforts on high-speed rail, road and airport construction and a “National Wireless Initiative” that, administration officials said, would extend the next generation of wireless coverage to 98 percent of the population.
Saying it is imperative for the nation to tackle its deficit, Mr. Obama reiterated his support for $78 billion in cuts to the Pentagon’s budget over five years, in addition to the five-year partial freeze on domestic spending.
"This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit...To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market."
Whatever our differences, we should balance the budget now. And then, for the long-term health of our society, we must agree to a bipartisan process to preserve Social Security and reform Medicare for the long run, so that these fundamental programs will be as strong for our children as they are for our parents.