President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech included far-reaching economic proposals -- comprehensive tax reform and a multi-billion dollar jobs plan that stalled in 2011. Both will certainly require the cooperation of a gridlocked Congress.
But Obama signaled his intent to get around congressional inaction by using private-sector dollars and existing government resources to fund research and infrastructure improvements aimed at bolstering good-paying jobs.
Economists have long pointed to America's outdated system of roads, bridges and ports as a huge opportunity to put millions of unemployed people to work. Major infrastructure initiatives would require significant funding from a Congress laser-focused on the deficit.
But the president on Tuesday announced a "Partnership to Rebuild America" that would create jobs through private investment in infrastructure, "to make sure taxpayers don't shoulder the whole burden." According to an administration document released before the speech, the plan would encourage "private sector investment that will create jobs upgrading critical business infrastructure" such as oil and gas pipelines, ports and the power grid.
Another job-creation proposal that won't involve Congress involves public-private research partnerships to encourage high-tech manufacturing.
A year ago, Obama proposed a $1 billion program to develop 15 "innovation institutes" that would bring researchers and companies together to develop high-tech manufacturing technologies. Congress didn't approve the funding, but the administration used existing money from the Energy and Defense departments to create a pilot program in Youngstown, Ohio, for the development of 3-D printing technology.
In Tuesday's speech, Obama again called for a $1 billion commitment from Congress, but said he will use executive authority to create three new manufacturing institutes, including outside money from the private sector.
"Businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs," Obama said.
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