Speaking before a friendly audience at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Barack Obama took a broader view on the jobs bill he’s been pushing Congress to pass. Not only is it good for Americans, he said, but it’s also in the best interest of the world.
“The single most important thing we can do for the world economy is to get our economy moving again,” he told the over-capacity crowd in New York City.
Though the pillars of his plan remained the same — hire teachers, fund construction projects and push for jobs for veterans — Obama used the opportunity to explain why those are important to America’s international competitiveness.
He explained that, in his first visit to South Korea, he learned about their “problems with education” — namely that they were having to import teachers at a premium to accommodate parental demands for students to begin learning English in the first grade. “And here, we’re laying off teachers,” he added.
As for infrastructure, Obama pointed out that building infrastructure had contributed to our economic growth in the last century, then posed a question to the audience: “How do you find LaGuardia [Airport] versus the Beijing Airport?” The audience laughed, at first nervously — until Obama cocked his head, indicating that he knew the answer, at which point people laughed more full-throatedly and he had one.
But the real kicker for his audience, assembled to discuss international economic development, was Obama’s final point: without jobs and the concomitant economic growth, “it is that much harder to sustain the critical development assistance and partnerships.”
It was, however, Obama’s standard point about Republican intransigence that drew the most laughs. “I do envy [Bill Clinton],” he said. “It turns out when you’re out of Washington you’re just dealing with people that are reasonable all the time.”
And, with that, the business leaders, government officials and nonprofit leaders had a good laugh.
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