President Barack Obama will call for new government spending on infrastructure, education and research in his State of the Union address Tuesday, sharpening his response to Republicans in Congress who are demanding deep budget cuts, people familiar with the speech said.
Mr. Obama will argue that the U.S., even while trying to reduce its budget deficit, must make targeted investments to foster job growth and boost U.S. competitiveness in the world economy. The new spending could include initiatives aimed at building the renewable-energy sector—which received billions of dollars in stimulus funding—and rebuilding roads to improve transportation, people familiar with the matter said. Money to restructure the No Child Left Behind law’s testing mandates and institute more competitive grants also could be included.
While proposing new spending, Mr. Obama also will lay out significant budget cuts elsewhere, people familiar with the plans say, though they will likely fall short of what Republican lawmakers have requested.
In arguing that U.S. competitiveness is at stake, Mr. Obama plans to use his nationally televised speech to try to frame the spending debate with Republicans that is expected to dominate Congress in the coming months. “We seek to do everything we can to spur hiring and ensure our nation can compete with anybody on the planet,” Mr. Obama said Friday after touring a General Electric Co. plant in Schenectady, N.Y. He cited clean-energy manufacturing, infrastructure and education as keys to competitiveness.
Previewing the expected theme of his speech, Mr. Obama on Friday appointed GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt to lead a new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Commenting on the new advisory panel, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that unless its “first recommendations are to reverse the damage the policies of the last two years have done to the business climate, job creation and the exploding national debt, I fear it will do more to create good public relations for the White House than good jobs for struggling Americans.”
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