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US has the best workers, economy: Obama

Last updated on: September 14, 2010 12:30 IST

US has the best workers, economy: Obama

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Despite other countries and the regions fast catching up, the United States still has a huge competitive edge over the rest, President Barack Obama has said. "I've travelled all around the world and I've looked at all the economic data.

If you had a choice of which country you'd want to be, you still want to be the United States of America," Obama said in his remarks on economy in Fairfax in Virginia.

"We still have a huge competitive edge and we've got the best workers in the world. And we've got the most dynamic economy in the world. We've got the best universities, the best entrepreneurs in the world," Obama said.

"But we've got to tackle these longstanding problems that have been getting in the way of progress, and we've got to do it now. We can't wait another 20 years or another 30 years because other countries are catching up.

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Image: Barack Obama volunteers to paint at National Day of Service and Remembrance event in Washington.

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That's what we've been trying to do over the last two years," Obama said urging his countrymen not to have lacklustre approach as other countries are trying to fast catch up with US' advantage.

"They cause great consternation. When we tried to get some common-sense rules in the financial sector, for example, that means billions of dollars that were going to profits to some of the banks are not going to be going there because you're getting a better deal on your credit card, and they're not happy about it. So that ends up creating a lot of drama on Capitol Hill. And it means that we've had some very contentious debates," Obama said.

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Image: Barack Obama.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Noting that the US' economy is not growing enough to reduce the high unemployment rate, President Barack Obama has called for closing those loopholes in the current tax codes that gives tax breaks to companies which create jobs overseas.

"The economy is growing, but it's not growing as fast as we would like. So over the last week, I've put forward a few more things that I think can really make a difference," Obama said in his remarks in a local neighbourhood discussion on the economy in Fairfax, Virginia.

"Number one, instead of giving tax breaks to companies that are investing overseas, which our tax code does right now, what I've said is let's close those tax loopholes and let's provide tax breaks to companies that are investing in research and development here in the US," Obama said, it is a smart thing to do.

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Image: Hotel and casino workers protest outside the Bank of America in Washington.
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters.
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"We want to incentivise businesses who actually are making profits right now to say, we should go ahead and take a chance, and let's invest in that next new thing," he said in his speech.

Obama said that he has also proposed to allow companies to write off essentially their new investments early if they make those investments here in 2011, so essentially accelerating the depreciation that they can take on their taxes to encourage them to frontload making investments now.

"The third thing that we've proposed -- and this is actually pending right now in the Senate...is a small business package that would eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses, would help small businesses obtain loans," he said.

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Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters.
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"It is a common-sense bill that traditionally would have garnered a lot of bipartisan support, but we're in the political silly season right now so it's been blocked up by the Senate Republicans for the last month and a half, two months," Obama said.

Noting that small businesses are still having trouble getting loans, the President said: "What we want to do, even though we've already given them eight different tax breaks, is we want to say we're going to give you just a little bit more incentive, because if we can get small businesses growing and investing and opening their doors and hiring new workers, that's probably going to be the area where we can make the most progress over the next year in terms of accelerating employees and reducing the unemployment rate."

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"So these are all steps that we're taking right now to try to move the economy forward. Now, I have never been more confident about the future of our economy, if we stay on track and we deal with some of these longstanding problems that we hadn't dealt with for decades," he said.

The investment in the field of research and development would determine America's competitiveness with India, China and Germany, US President Barack Obama, has said as he once again raised the rhetoric with fast approaching mid-term elections in the month of November.

"We have made the largest investment in research and development, in basic research and science, in our history, because that's going to determine whether we can compete with China and India and Germany over the long term. Are we inventing stuff here that we can then export overseas?" Obama said.

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Obama, who has been reflecting the progress made by other countries to motivate his countrymen to work hard to maintain the US' competitive edge over other countries including those from Europe.

"We're making investments in our infrastructure, because we can't have a second-class infrastructure and expect to have a first-class economy. Just an interesting statistic over the last decade: China spends about nine per cent of its gross domestic product on infrastructure. Europe spends about five per cent. We've been spending two per cent," Obama said.

"And that's part of the reason why we no longer have the best airports, we no longer have the best rail systems, we don't have the best broadband service. South Korea has better broadband service and wireless service than we do.

And over time, that adds up. It makes us less competitive. So what we've said is we've got to make investments in infrastructure," Obama said.

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Photographs: Tami Chappell/Reuters.
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A generation ago, Obama said the US had the highest proportion of college graduates of any country in the world. "We now rank 11th or 12th in the proportion of college graduates. Well, we can't win in an information society, in a global, technologically wired economy, unless we're winning that battle to make sure our kids can compete," he argued.

"So what we've said is we're going to put more money into higher education and through K-12 -- but here's the catch -- the money is only going to those communities that are serious about reforming their education system so they work well. Because it's -- education is not just a matter of putting more money into it," he said.

"You also have to make sure that we've got the best teachers, that we've got accountability, that the way we're designing our schools help our kids actually succeed over the long term, especially in areas of math and science, where we're lagging even further behind than we were a generation ago," Obama said.


Image: Harvard University.

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