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VIDEO: Republicans Oppose Government Investments In American Economy

By George Zornick  

"VIDEO: Republicans Oppose Government Investments In American Economy"

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Previewing his State of the Union speech, President Obama made clear this weekend that he wants to outline a “vision for how we as a people will win the future.” Many reports indicate Obama will focus on how the government can invest in several key sectors in order to improve the country’s economic future, with a recent speech in North Carolina as a template, in which the President pledged to “continue to fight for those investments that will help America win the race for the jobs and industries of the future — and that means investments in education and innovation and infrastructure.”

Leading conservative voices have already gone on the record rejecting Obama’s calls for renewed investment before he has even delivered the address. Republicans have made it clear they view any government spending as unnecessary, and they believe Obama’s calls for “investment” are simply a conspiracy to increase federal spending:

– Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “When you hear — and with all due respect to our Democratic friends — anytime they want to spend they call it ‘investment,’ so I think you’ll hear the president talk about investing a lot on Tuesday night. We’ve got a huge spending problem here.” [Fox News Sunday, 1/23/11]

– House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): “When [Obama] talks about investing — I think even someone from the White House this week had said that this is going to be a cut and invest White House. We want to cut and grow, because when we hear invest from anyone in Washington, to me that means more spending.” [Meet the Press, 1/23/11]

– Rush Limbaugh: “All this talk about investments… that’s what all the new spending is going to be called….How many decades have we been investing in all of these things, and all we’ve got to show for it is a nation in debt; we’ve got no winning performances, leading performances, in our education system. In fact everything we’ve been investing in is falling apart.” [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/24/11]

Watch a compilation:

For once, a conservative conspiracy theory is entirely accurate: obviously, government investment in education, energy, infrastructure and other areas would necessarily involve federal spending, and Obama is not attempting to hide that. But the spending is indeed an investment in America’s future. As Limbaugh notes, the American education system is not displaying “winning performances.” That is exactly the reason the federal government needs to invest in education, and the Center for American Progress has outlined how Obama can call for “a national initiative and conversation about school investments and educational efficiency to help school districts make better use of their educational dollars.”

For the energy sector, CAP Senior Fellow Daniel Weiss hopes that, along with other investment measures, Obama will call for a $2 barrel fee on imported oil that would raise over $9 billion annually for clean energy investments and deficit reduction. CAP is also calling for the creation of a “green bank” to help companies take new technologies from successful R&D to the marketplace.

These issues seem worthy of investment. If Republicans disagree, they should engage the merits instead reflexively recoiling at the sound of “investments.” President Bush, in his State of the Union addresses, repeatedly called for government investment in key areas that “showed some rapport with Obama. Bush called for what seemed like government support for advanced energy technologies.”

Update

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) revealed to local reporters today that “[w]hen the President talks in his speech about investment, the American people need to understand that translates into spending.”

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