The State of the Union: More United Than Reported
As President Obama and Gov. Daniels so clearly articulated on Tuesday night, there is much work ahead to get America back on a path of strong economic prosperity. Still-too-high unemployment, the European debt crisis and potential conflict with Iran all present dire challenges. However, in spite of the ignominious and divisive debates that are commonplace during election cycles, it's clear that the country has a shared sense of the state of affairs and clear agreement on a vision for the future.
The United States remains a nation that consistently and selflessly tackles difficult challenges with an eye toward preserving its promise to the next generation. As a nation, we are eyes wide open on our challenges - - two-thirds of Americans believe the nation is on the wrong track, but by overwhelming margins, retain faith that the American Dream is achievable.
The nation is also united in having bigger ambitions for the country than either party seems willing to deliver. In recent years, both political parties have squandered the public's trust, thereby creating significant uncertainties about our leaders' ability to rise to the challenges of this generation. In a recent Zogby poll, 77 percent believe that within five years China will be the world's innovation leader. To many, China is symptomatic of larger global trends that threaten to erode the nation's leadership position.
To meet this challenge, we need an even more aggressive trade agenda that prevents other countries from unfairly keeping our products out of their markets. The free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama passed by Congress last fall and The Trans-Pacific Partnership currently under negotiation are a good start. But we also need to do more, including expanding the WTO's Information Technology Agreement, which would significantly bolster trade in tech products, one of our sweet spots.
Moreover, in spite of the economic uncertainties before us, there is also much consensus on other common sense solutions to move the country forward. We are united in our belief that comprehensive tax reform is necessary. Roughly six in 10 (59 percent) say that so much is wrong with the tax system that Congress should completely change it. We need to ditch our outdated tax code for one that encourages employment creation and an inflow of capital investment. Bringing back foreign-earned capital is essential, as part of an overall tax code that encourages forward-thinking research and development projects.
There is also broad consensus that that the nation's innovative capacity is a unique asset upon which we can build. As such, the administration, both parties, and both bodies of Congress acknowledge opening up valuable spectrum which will allow our nation to keep pace with this revolution, creating jobs, spurring innovation and stimulating development. There is compelling logic to move forward in this area right now.
Also important to our future is making sure we are developing and attracting the most talented people to our shores. Not too long ago we commonly referred to our nation as a melting pot that was a foundation of strength. We can return to that pride through making smart and targeted adjustments to our immigration policy.
President Obama in his State of the Union address asserted the need for more tourist visas. That is a worthy goal, but we need much more. It is clear that thousands of skilled positions in the tech sector are sadly not being filled due to a lack of qualified workers. By issuing new work visas for highly-skilled immigrants and cutting-edge entrepreneurs, we can ensure that China does not outpace us on the world economic stage.
In this election year, we will hear plenty on what divides us. True, there are real divisions and concerns about issues like income inequality and even how best to deal with online piracy, but we remain united on what matters most: We want to continue as the world's dominant economic and innovating power, maintaining the level of prosperity we have enjoyed for the past 30 years. Together we can attain these goals if we focus on solutions instead of launching salvos against each other for the sake of politics.