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Obama State of the Union 2011: US must 'win the future' through innovation

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“Innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living,” Obama said.

In fact, Obama spent so much time talking about the need to revitalize the economy, build US infrastructure, and bolster national competitiveness that the US Chamber of Commerce gave the speech qualified support.

“While there will be differences on how to achieve these goals, we must find enough common ground to ensure America’s greatness into the 21st century,” said Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas Donahue in response to the State of the Union.

A new political reality

Of course, the context of Tuesday’s speech is far different than that faced by the administration prior to Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections. With the GOP in control of the House, the White House knows that its era of powering legislation through Congress is over. In the wake of the sobering attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) of Arizona, both parties are toning down their political rhetoric.

As he looked out at the lawmakers assembled in the House chamber, Obama saw many pairs of Republican and Democratic lawmakers sitting together – a symbol of a new bipartisanship, perhaps, or at least a new respect for the folks on the other side of the aisle.

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