(AP) - President Bush on Saturday urged the Senate to back increased government spending on basic scientific research.
The proposal is part of Bush's initiative to boost U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace through innovation. He also wants to train thousand of new science and math teachers and extend a popular tax credit businesses can receive for investing in research and development. The total price tag over 10 years would be $136 billion, reports Trend.
Some Democrats have expressed concern that Bush is increasing federal math and science education spending while cutting overall discretionary spending on education by trimming money in areas such as the arts, parent-resource centers and drug-free schools. But Bush said in his weekly radio address that his proposals are vital for America to "remain an innovative nation that competes with confidence" and would help ensure that every U.S. child has the math and science skills needed for the jobs of the future.
The president devoted part of a two-day trip to Illinois to his American Competitiveness Initiative, visiting Cabot Microelectronics Corp., headquartered in Aurora, Ill., in Chicago's exurbs.
Donning protective eyewear and a white lab coat, Bush toured a laboratory of the supplier of products used in making semiconductors. Cabot is in the district of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who accompanied Bush to the facility.
"Cutting-edge firms like Cabot are creating good jobs for our workers and helping to keep America competitive in the global economy," Bush said in his radio remarks.
He said the Senate should follow the House's lead and approve full funding of the basic research component of his initiative, which would double federal spending on basic research in the physical sciences.
The president also put a rosy spin on a new jobs report that showed U.S. employers added a disappointing 121,000 jobs last month.
The count of new jobs added to the economy in June did mark an improvement from the 92,000 new positions logged in May the fewest in seven months. But it still fell short of economists' forecasts for an increase of around 175,000, and the Dow Jones industrials lost 134.63 points Friday to close at 11,090.67.
The April-to-June average of 108,000 jobs a month also was down from the average of 176,000 a month for the previous quarter. The moderation in job growth comes as companies cope with rising energy prices and interest rates and try to determine how much of a slowdown in overall economic activity the country is likely to encounter in the months ahead.
Still, Bush celebrated 34 straight months of job increases.
"Our economic expansion is lifting the lives of millions of Americans," he said.
Democrats focused on the tepid nature of the growth, noting it was smaller than needed to keep up with population increases.
"Instead of doing something to address sky-high gas prices, expensive loans and outsourced jobs, this president is holding photo ops touting his policies that are failing small businesses," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.