Obama: US Will Have the Most College Grads

The Associated Press

TROY, N.Y. — President Barack Obama, squeezing in a pitch for his domestic agenda, is promoting his administration’s promises of innovation at a New York community college before weeklong meetings on international priorities.

Obama traveled to Troy, N.Y., on Monday to discuss programs he says help spur innovation and transform the U.S. economy. He then moves on to New York City, where he will become the first sitting U.S. president to appear on David Letterman’s “Late Show” couch — another example of a White House strategy designed to put Obama in front of as many cameras as possible to sell his message to a skeptical public.

“He’s been on everything but the Food Channel,” joked Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Embattled New York Gov. David Paterson was the first to greet Obama as he walked off Air Force One into the epicenter of a dispute over the New York governor’s race. The two men shook hands after Obama arrived Monday. The president leaned over to make a brief comment to Paterson

Obama’s visit to a college near Albany comes a day after Washington Democrats sent a message to Paterson to drop out of the 2010 race. Obama’s aides insist the president isn’t interfering with New York politics.

On the campus, Obama toured a classroom lab where students were working with transformers and studying power distribution.

“This looks complicated,” the president said. He chatted with students as he examined the circuitry and computers and asked instructors about the real-world applications of the students’ work. He was accompanied by Jill Biden, a college instructor and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama made appearances on five Sunday morning talk shows at the top of a week that will take him to New York for the U.N. General Assembly and to Pittsburgh for a gathering of the world’s 20 largest economies. Both will be the focus of international attention but come as the administration is trying to spark a domestic agenda that has stalled in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

To that end, his speech at Hudson Valley Community College was repackaging his programs as part of a strategy for innovation. The White House said the remarks would reflect Obama’s belief that new ideas produce new jobs and the United States must invest in education, infrastructure and research.

Hudson Valley Community College already has received some $2 million in federal grants to promote environmentally friendly jobs and train students in energy efficiency programs..
During his remarks, Obama plans to decry a U.S. economy that relies on explosive growth in some areas that mask long-term weaknesses. Instead, he plans to say, the economy has to be a consistent string of new ideas that refresh the market at a constant pace. The president — fond of criticizing “a bubble-and-burst” cycle — also plans to describe a future built by skilled workers and sound investments.

He will point to more than $100 billion in economic stimulus dollars that Congress approved earlier this year to look for breakthroughs in areas as diverse as health, energy and information technology and to his spending priorities, which included the largest increase in basic research in history. Although deeply unpopular among conservatives, administration officials insist the spending pulled the economy back from the brink and avoided a potential economic depression.

And to prevent future crises, Obama will tell the audience the United States must continue to invest in projects so the nation isn’t left trying to catch up with global competitors and to make sure regulations don’t stifle new thinking crucial to economic stability.

President Obama says that by 2020 America will again have the world’s highest proportion of college graduates. A recent increase in Pell Grants will help the nation reach that goal.