President Barack Obama's centrist economic message on Tuesday was not unexpected as he reworks his political strategy after big Republican gains in the November elections. He wants to reduce federal spending, while trying to jump-start the lagging economic recovery.
The nation is suffering with a 9.4% unemployment rate, and in the heartland of California it's much worse. Fresno County's jobless rate rose to 17.2% last month.That has taken a terrible toll on families and has stifled the local economy.
This isn't about which party can position itself for gains in the 2012 elections. The hopes and dreams of real people are at stake while the Democrats and Republicans are jockeying for political advantage. Sitting together at the State of the Union speech was a small step toward cooperation. Now they must work together.
Americans are looking for the president and Congress to create jobs, and fix an economy that already has had too many victims.
Obama and Congress need to position the United States so it can compete in a rapidly changing world. In Tuesday's speech, Obama challenged the country to seize this generation's "Sputnik moment" where investments in energy, technology and infrastructure will be off in the future.
"At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else," Obama said. "It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded."
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