The President Talks Tech

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As expected, President Bush unsurprisingly covered themes like Iraq, Iran and terrorism in his State of the Union address to the nation last week. But he also included a few things that should have made IT professionals in particular sit up and take notice. Here are the main talking points for techies.

 

Bush touched on a key issue in the section of the speech devoted to health care: the role of IT in improving medical service. “We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors,” he said. “We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance.”

 

He also spoke briefly about the graying of the Baby Boomer generation. “This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turns 60, including two of my dad’s favorite people: me and President Clinton,” he said, and went on to explain the strain this would put on federal entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. However, he did not mention the impact this trend might have on the workforce. In IT, for example, many more skilled workers are expected to leave the job market than enter it in the next couple of decades.

 

Yet perhaps the most important issue Bush covered (from an IT pro’s perspective) was the economic competition it would face from emerging nations like China and India, which he actually cited directly in the speech.

 

To keep the U.S. workforce viable, Bush announced the American Competitiveness Initiative, which would double the federal commitment over the next 10 years to the critical research programs in the physical sciences in areas like nanotech, supercomputing and alternative energy sources. Additionally, it would offer tax credits for research and development initiatives, and encourage students to take more math and science courses in school.

 

“We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity,” he said. “Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people, and we are going to keep that edge.”

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