Pushing his jobs agenda, President Barack Obama made the case Friday that companies can make money and build up the country at the same time, citing the giant Intel Corp. chip maker as his model of smart investing in education.
"We know what works. We know how to succeed," the president told employees here after getting an eye-opening tour of Intel's manufacturing facility. "We know how to do big things. And all across this nation, in places just like this one, we have students and teachers, local leaders and companies who are working together to make it happen."
Though Republicans in Washington are balking at Obama's call for more spending on education, Obama said Intel's example has shown that spending on education and worker training is a good investment — even in difficult financial times.
"You're not just a good corporate role model," Obama said. "You're a corporation that understands that investing in education is a good business model. It's good for the bottom line."
The president spoke during a West Coast swing designed to highlight his vision of making the U.S. more competitive globally. Before the visit, the White House announced that Obama had picked company CEO Paul Otellini, a sometimes critic, to serve on a presidential competitiveness council.
Intel last year announced a 10-year, $200 million commitment to promote math and science education; Obama was wowed by the projects of the students he met during his visit. The company is among those that are working to help meet Obama's goal of getting the U.S. to first place in science and math education in a decade.
The president is proposing a freeze on overall domestic spending for five years, but increases in select areas like education. "In today's economy, the quality of a nation's education is one of the biggest predictors of a nation's success," he said. "It is what will determine whether the American dream survives."
On Thursday night, at the Woodside, Calif. home of venture capitalist John Doerr, Obama dined privately with some of the top names in business innovation. They included Eric Schmidt of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Steve Jobs of Apple, who is on his third medical leave as concern about his health mounts. Also present were the chief executives of Yahoo!, Oracle, NetFlix and Twitter, and the president of Stanford University.
Republicans say government spending without restraint is hindering job creation. They want to slash the budget. On Capitol Hill, the Republican-controlled House neared a vote on whether to cut $61 billion from government spending this year.