President Barack Obama tonight in his State of the Union address is going to unveil new ideas for American competitiveness. Hooray for American competetiveness! I wonder if any other U.S. president has thought to raise this important issue in a SOTU?
Barack Obama, 2010:
[W]e can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products. [...]
We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. And that's why we'll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia.
Barack Obama, 2009:
The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we're taking to revive our economy in the short-term. But the only way to fully restore America's economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren't preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility. [...]
[W]e know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.
George W. Bush, 2008:
On trade, we must trust American workers to compete with anyone in the world and empower them by opening up new markets overseas.
George W. Bush, 2007:
And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future and our country is more competitive by strengthening math and science skills.
Or he could just reprint George W. Bush's entire 2006 speech, which was on the topic of "Keeping America competitive." Sample:
Tonight I will set out a better path: An agenda for a nation that competes with confidence; an agenda that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future because we intend to shape it.
Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing. [...]
Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. [...]
Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. [...]
Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. [...]
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. [...]
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're going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy and to give our Nation's children a firm grounding in math and science. [...]
Preparing our Nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative, and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.
You know what I'd like to see, aside from a president submitting his SOTU, like a bouquet of dead flowers, by the U.S. mail? Any acknowledgment at all that the gee-whiz ideas we'll hear about tonight are the same gee-whiz ideas we heard last year, and the year before that and the year before that. Maybe even some reflection on why the last American Competitiveness Initiative was as results-free as it was 99 percent forgotten by the nation's brain-scrubbed political class.