In a visit on Friday to one of the country's biggest high-tech companies, President Obama said that the expanded investment in education, infrastructure, and innovation he proposed earlier this week in his fiscal 2012 budget is necessary to keep the U.S. competive in the global marketplace.
Speaking to workers at Intel's Hillsboro, Ore., facility, Obama reiterated that he's committed to cutting government spending but that he wants to lower the corporate tax rate and eliminate unnecessary regulations to help spur private investment that he believes will help the economy grow.
"If we want the next technological breakthrough that leads to the next Intel to happen here in the United States--not in China or not in Germany, but here in the United States--then we have to invest in America’s research and technology; in the work of our scientists and our engineers," Obama said.
The president praised the manufacturer of microprocessors for pouring some $50 million into educating and training Oregon students. The company’s investment helps ensure that it will have a qualified pool of potential employees in the future, the sort of pragmatic investment that Obama wishes other American businesses would make.
Before his speech, Obama got a chance to tour Intel's microprocessor factory. He also met with high school and middle school students who are receiving math, science, and engineering instruction from Intel. The president acknowledged that he didn’t quite understand what some of the students were studying, but they made a positive impression on him.
“For all the gadgets you got here, what actually most impressed me were the students in the science projects I got to see,” Obama said “It gave me the chance to speak about quantum ternary algorithms, and it gave me a chance to nod my head and pretend I knew what they were talking about.”
Earlier in the day, the White House announced that Obama has tapped Intel's CEO to serve on the president's newly created advisory council tasked with helping him bolster a sluggish U.S economy. Paul Otellini becomes the second executive named to the council. General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt was named last month as the council’s chairman.
Perhaps most interesting about Otellini is that he has offered some pretty blunt criticism of Obama’s economic strategy—particularly the $787 billion stimulus package that the White House says helped keep the recent recession from becoming another Great Depression. But Otellini and many Republicans counter that the stimulus was wasteful spending that did not achieve its goal.
"The decisions so far have not resulted in either job growth or increased confidence,” Otellini said of the stimulus package in a September interview with CNN Money. “When what you're doing isn't working, you rethink it, and I think we need to rethink some plans.”
Otellini will sit on a newly created council that replaces the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a panel of experts created by Obama early in his presidency to help guide the government's response to the nation's economic crisis. By establishing the new jobs council, the White House is trying to shift the focus from steering the nation out of recession to spurring job growth.
Although Otellini has been critical of the White House, it hasn't stopped Obama from seeking the Intel executive's opinion. Otellini was one of several CEOs invited to the White House in December to sit down with the president to discuss the economy. Obama invited him back to the White House last month as a guest to the state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Today’s stop at the Intel plant follows a quick visit to Northern California on Thursday during which Obama huddled with high-tech executives—including Google’s Eric Schmidt, Apple’s Steve Jobs, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg—over an intimate dinner at the home of venture capitalist John Doerr.
Obama and 12 executives discussed ideas about spurring investment in research and development and ways to incentivize companies to hire more workers. Obama and the executives also spent time talking about the president’s desire to increase investment in education.
The president has been making his case for his 2012 budget, a $3.73 trillion spending plan that includes billions of dollars in new spending on education, infrastructure, and innovation, while simultaneously calling for significant cuts elsewhere.