Modern Investments: A Historic Truth

10/20/2011 03:40 pm ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

208 years ago today, the United States of America chose to make a modern investment that would literally shape our country.

On October 20, 1803, the United States Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase, just days before President Jefferson's treaty was set to expire. 24 Senators voted in favor.

Seven opposed.

That's right -- even in Jefferson's day, there were those opposed to making the modern investments to move our economy forward.

To create jobs, modern economies require modern investments. That isn't a Democratic or Republican idea; it's a historic and economic truth that we have proved out time and again as a people.

Today and always, job creation must be our nation's top priority. American progress, by any measure, is only possible with greater employment. In fact, we can only retire our deficit if we can employ more of our people.

That is why President Obama's job creation proposals are so important, and why those filibustering are so irresponsible. When President Obama introduced these bipartisan ideas in September, he said jobless Americans can't wait 14 months until the next election. Six weeks later, they still can't.

Many of the proposals in the American Jobs Act are being put into action by governors -- both Democratic and Republican -- in statehouses across our country. But federal action to help Americans find work is still critically important.

The historic truth remains: there are some challenges so large that we can only hope to tackle them together. Creating jobs, expanding opportunity, improving public education and public safety, and rebuilding a 21st century transportation and cyber infrastructure won't happen by themselves.

Modern economies require modern investments. Americans have done it better than any people in the recorded history of the world, identifying and investing in the innovations for a stronger country.

One such example is Robert Livingston. One of the men Jefferson selected to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase, Livingston partnered with an inventor working on the seemingly preposterous idea of using hot air to propel a boat. Two centuries later, our schoolchildren still learn about Robert Fulton and his steamboat.