SAN JOSE, Calif. — President Barack Obama on Monday carried his job-creation crusade into the heart of Silicon Valley, a corner of the country that compared with other regions has done pretty well at job creation on its own.
At a town-hall meeting with social-media powerhouse LinkedIn dubbed “Putting America Back to Work,” the president was relaxed and often jovial as he took questions from the audience, using the event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View as a bully pulpit to pitch his $447 billion plan to create 1.9 million jobs renovating the nation’s roads, airports and railways.
Seeming just as pumped up as the crowd of LinkedIn members and guests, Obama started with some serious ego-stroking, saying every time he comes to Silicon Valley, “I am excited about America’s future because no part of the country better represents the essence of America. If you’ve got a good idea and are willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears to make it happen, you can do it. Tha t driving spirit has made America a superpower.”
For the next hour, Obama fielded a half-dozen questions, some from the live audience and others that had been previously submitted online. At times, he spent as much as 10 minutes on a single answer, particularly those concerning the need to make America’s education system more globally competitive.
His message was clear: put people back to work now, but in coming years do what’s necessary to ensure that America stays competitive.
“We’ve got a short-term challenge, of how do we put people back to work,” the president told the crowd, stressing the need to get more teachers back into the classroom while rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, “putting people to work rebuilding our roads, and also making sure we’re providing small businesses the kinds of tax incentives that will allow them to succeed.”
Veering off of his jobs message at times, Obama seemed especially focused on bolstering America’s schools, especially in the fields of math and science, or else risk being left behind by China and India. And he said efforts to make our children smarter and better equipped for the global economy must start at home.
Referring to the “cultural component” of these efforts, the president told the crowd that “we have to turn off the TV set and put away the video games sometimes and get our kids motivated by learning. If we don’t do that, we’ll continue to slip behind.”