‘A Thriving, Competitive America Within Our Reach,’ Obama Tells Business Community

February 24, 2010 - 7:04 AM
In a speech prepared for delivery Wednesday to business leaders whose support he has enjoyed, Obama ties together pieces of his agenda and describes them as a unified push to help the United States compete.
Washington (AP) - America can still out-compete other nations in the world marketplace, but only if the government and U.S. businesses move ahead with a unified agenda, President Barack Obama says.
 
In a speech prepared for delivery Wednesday to business leaders whose support he has enjoyed, Obama ties together pieces of his agenda and describes them as a unified push to help the United States compete, according to excerpts released Tuesday by the White House.
 
Hiring new workers, revamping financial regulations and overhauling the nation's health care system all are components of Obama's argument designed to appeal to the Business Roundtable gathering at a Washington hotel.
 
"Despite growing global competition, this country can continue to lead," Obama said in his prepared remarks. "A thriving, competitive America is within our reach. But only if we move forward as one nation, only if we move past the old debates and crippling divides between left and right, business and labor, private enterprise and the public sector.
 
"Whatever differences we have in this country, all of us have a stake in meeting the same goal: an America in which a growing prosperity is shared widely by its people," the president said.
 
The Roundtable, one of capital's most influential business groups, comprises the CEOs of the nation's largest corporations. The group's support is seen as crucial to Obama's agenda as he faces a rough road heading toward November's midterm elections. Obama has wooed the Roundtable's leaders since the start of his presidency, including an hour-plus speech to them last year and a private White House dinner Tuesday night.
 
His top advisers, such as Valerie Jarrett, have spent hours hearing the group's viewpoints and weaving their opinions into the White House's agenda.
 
Even so, the business leaders are working in a challenging climate. The economy has shed 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007, though job losses have slowed in the past couple of months.
 
Against that backdrop, Obama planned to describe his agenda as helping workers, businesses and government find their common ground to help an economic recovery. He also planned to describe his efforts to expand investments in innovation, education and energy.
 
Finally, he would address his plans to increase exporting U.S. goods overseas and to open new markets.
 
The speech roughly summarizes the themes Obama laid out during his State of the Union address and channels the approach that elevated Obama from the Illinois Senate to the presidency in less than five years.
 
"Rather than hurling accusations about big government liberals or mean-spirited conservatives, we will have to answer these tough questions," Obama said in his prepared remarks. "And getting this balance right has less to do with big government or small government than it does smart government. It's not about being antibusiness or pro-government; it's about being pro-growth and pro-jobs."