Business Community Encouraged by President’s Focus on U.S. Competitiveness in State of the Union Address

Recent Public Opinion Research Shows Support for Greater Emphasis on Math and Science

Washington, DC – Fifteen prominent business organizations applauded President Bush tonight for calling for an American competitiveness initiative in his State of the Union address to the nation. Members of “Tapping America’s Potential” (TAP) – representing every sector of the U.S. economy – cited the President’s call to action as a critical step toward keeping America competitive in the 21st century economy.

“We are extremely pleased that the President has committed to increase America’s scientific and technological capabilities as a central part of his domestic agenda,” said Arthur F. Ryan, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc., and Chairman of the Education & the Workforce Task Force at Business Roundtable, an organizing member of TAP. “The President clearly understands that in order to keep America atop the world economy, U.S. companies need a talented and capable workforce to develop the innovations of tomorrow.”

In July 2005, TAP released a report, “Tapping America’s Potential,” expressing deep concern about America’s ability to sustain its scientific and technological superiority. The report set the goal of doubling the number of U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates with bachelor’s degrees by 2015.

Since that time, the National Academies released its own report focused on innovation, “Rising above the Gathering Storm,” in October 2005. It echoed many of the same concerns, and several pieces of legislation have also been introduced in Congress. The President’s remarks tonight add to this building momentum.

“President Bush’s message tonight was clear. The supply of workers with backgrounds in these critical fields must meet the growing demands of the U.S. economy,” said John J. Castellani, President of Business Roundtable. “The White House’s leadership on this issue provides the necessary momentum for our ‘innovation agenda,’ and the business community is poised to work with the Administration and Congress to heed this call.”

Recent public opinion research commissioned by Business Roundtable indicates that opinion leaders and the American public support the President in making math and science reform a national priority. Among other key findings, the research showed widespread public recognition of the growing competitiveness crisis in this country and strong national support for policies designed to strengthen America’s capabilities in these areas.

“The President has laid out a clear path for a comprehensive innovation agenda that prioritizes critical areas of economic incentives and strong investments in math and science education to foster tomorrow’s innovators,” said Lezlee Westine, President and CEO of TechNet, a TAP member. “TechNet and its member companies look forward to working with both parties to enact policies to create an environment in which innovation can flourish and fuel continued U.S. global economic leadership.” After issuing its report in July 2005, TAP mobilized an intensive effort to vocalize concerns at the highest levels of Congress and the Administration. TAP members are encouraging policymakers to pass legislation this year to address the current and growing need to strengthen U.S. capabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.