4 smart things Barack Obama said about job creation

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I’ve been pretty critical of a lot of the ideas coming out of Washington about how to encourage job creation, so I thought I’d take a breather and do a more glass-half-full post. As it turns out, I’ve been out in America this week doing some reporting on the topic, speaking with a lot of small-business owners, start-up CEOs and big-company executives. Based on those conversations, I’ve determined that Barack Obama said a number of smart things in the speech he gave today to the Business Roundtable.

Here are my top four picks.

We should provide a tax incentive for large businesses like yours to invest in new plants and equipment.  That would make a difference now. 

True! A lot of companies are in surprisingly solid financial shape. Yet they don’t want to invest because the future is so scarily uncertain—both in terms of economic outlook and big policy shifts (on health care, energy, etc. etc.) A tax break would give a push to businesses to open up their wallets and spend sooner rather than later.

To spur the discovery of services and products and industries we have yet to imagine, we’re devoting more than 3 percent of our GDP to research and development -– an amount that exceeds the level achieved at the height of the space race.  We’ve also proposed making the research and experimentation tax credit permanent –- a tax credit that helps companies like yours afford the high costs of developing new technologies and new products. 

Someone was complaining about this just the other day—the absurdity that the R&D tax credit has been temporary since 1981 and has expired twice. It’s permanent in China, folks! R&D=innovation=the jobs of tomorrow. Let’s go ahead and make the incentive to start that cycle permanent.

We will work to resolve outstanding issues so that we can move forward on trade agreements with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia.  And that’s why we will try to conclude a Doha trade agreement –- not just any agreement, but one that creates real access to key global markets. 

Thank you for being specific! Plenty of companies would love to sell more overseas, but policy really gets in the way. I’m shocked at how often I’ve said “job creation,” and the response I’ve gotten back has been “South Korea, Colombia, Doha.”  

I’m urging the Senate to pass a bill… that will also revitalize our community colleges, which this organization has recognized are a career pathway to the children of so many working families. 

Hallelujah! It’s not all about getting into an overpriced four-year college. Community colleges are great at teaching the skills and knowledge people need to go out and get actual jobs. And when those jobs go away in 20 years, the same community colleges will be great at retraining those workers for the economy’s next act.