As they analyze the two speeches tonight – the President’s State of the Union Address and Senator Marco Rubio’s Republican response, pundits are focused on the evening's political theater. Who applauded when? Was the tone fair or fractious? But those questions ignore the ones that are most important: What are the areas of agreement? And how do we get them done?
When there is bipartisan agreement, there is hope for bipartisan accomplishment. The President’s and Senator Rubio’s remarks both built on ideas that the parties have claimed as priorities. They both shared ideas to expand economic opportunity. And they both offered a common prescription that can ensure America’s continued global leadership in innovation. It’s not one single policy, but rather a smart mix of strategic policy overhauls that will spark job creation in the short-term while building a foundation for lasting economic strength.
In the short-term, shared priorities include tax reform to encourage new investments and economic activity here at home; immigration reform that allows job-creating, highly skilled foreign-born students to stay in the U.S. instead of being forced to return home to compete against us; and investments in R&D and science so the next generation of innovative products are designed and developed here in America.
For the long-term, the President and Senator Rubio agreed that education is fundamental to America’s success. And, to back up their rhetoric, both men have put forward achievable proposals that would invest in the academic areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that will drive economic success in this century.
The State of the Union night is almost always more spectacle than substance, but tonight seemed to be a little different. Tonight, not only was there the expected politics, but, if you step back from the glare of the spotlights, you also will see the potential for progress. We hope that their common ideas and shared priorities will serve as bridges of opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.