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NPR: Jobs, Of Course, But What Else Will Obama Say?

Author: National Public Radio Staff
January 23, 2011

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On Tuesday, President Obama will give his State of the Union address, and everyone wants to know what he will talk about.

For anyone playing parlor games at home that night, New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker says, it might be fun to count the number of times the word "jobs" comes up with the word "competitiveness."

Baker expects the president to underscore the need for American competitiveness amid the rise of countries like India and China. That will naturally include trade issues, he says, but also education, innovation and infrastructure.

"This is a way for him to make the case for a lot of the things that have been important to him for a long time in a more consensus-building theme," Baker tells Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. "The idea of competitiveness, of course, is something that appeals to Republicans as well as Democrats."

Shout-Out To Business

As the president prepares to file paperwork to establish his re-election campaign, he may find himself in the same shoes as the last two-term Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who in 1995 also faced a newly elected Republican majority in the House.

In the spirit of working with that new majority, Baker says, the president has already taken steps to emphasize pro-business policy — with the appointment this week of GE chief Jeffrey Immelt to his economic competitiveness council and former JPMorgan executive Bill Daley as his new chief of staff. Obama has also promised to look at regulations that hobble job creation.

"You're hearing a little bit of a recognition that he needs to work out a new relationship with business," Baker says. "He's going to say, 'Look, this is too important for all of us to fracture over old lines of pro- and anti-business.' "

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