Obama: Innovation Key to Economic Recovery

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is promoting business innovation as a building block to more jobs, part of a retooled economic message that aims to highlight advances in the private sector over expensive government programs.

With a Wisconsin energy company as a backdrop, Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to prod the business community to help speed up an economic recovery that is still beset by high unemployment.

"That's how America will win the future - by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building our competitors," he said.

Obama taped the message Wednesday at Orion Energy Systems, a Manitowoc, Wis., company specializing in solar power and energy-efficient technologies.

The innovation pitch is part of a broader White House effort to move away from the high-dollar spending the administration relied on to pull the economy out of recession to a leaner, business-friendly strategy focused on making the U.S. more competitive in the global marketplace.

Last week, Obama made a case for freer trade as a prescription for U.S. job growth and said the nation must emphasize efforts to open markets abroad. Next week, the president will continue his role as a booster of American innovation. He plans to discuss innovation with technology business leaders on Tuesday and has scheduled a visit Wednesday to Pennsylvania State University, which is involved in an Energy Department program on energy-efficient buildings.

Orion and the Penn State program offer Obama the types of examples in green technologies that he argues are not only key for competitiveness but also for greater energy independence. Obama is proposing a tax credit for companies that undertake research and has set a goal that 80 percent of the nation's electricity will come from clean energy sources by 2035.

"This is going to help spark innovation at businesses across America," he said. "This is going to spur new products and technologies. This is going to lead to good, new jobs."

Obama is working to build support for greater government spending in education, infrastructure and research - initiatives that face skeptical congressional Republicans but that could win over the business community.

Obama also called for a freeze in spending in his State of the Union address Tuesday and proposed reorganizing parts of the bureaucracy to make government more efficient.

"We have to reform our government and cut wasteful spending, so that we eliminate what we don't need to pay for the investments we need to grow, like education and medical research," he said in his address Saturday.

In the GOP's weekly address, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said that to fix an ailing economy, the U.S. must address the "ever expanding" size and cost of governing the country.

"I hope the president and his allies in Congress accept a simple truth: Big government is blocking job creation, not helping it. The sooner Washington ends its dependence on more spending, the sooner our economy will see real growth," he said.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.

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