Bush expands on competitiveness plan from State of the Union
MAPLEWOOD, Minn. – President Bush urged Congress on Thursday to give new life to a research and development tax credit for business to better compete with China, India and other rising global economies.At a 3M Corp. plant outside Minneapolis, Bush said the United States needs to embrace technological innovation and emphasize math and science education. That was a theme of his State of the Union address and one he intended to promote Friday in Albuquerque, N.M., and Dallas.”Congress needs to understand that nations like China and India and Japan and Korea and Canada all offer tax incentives that are permanent,” Bush said about the tax credit that expired Dec. 31.Bush also said more scientists and high-tech workers should be given visas to work in the United States. Federal law provides 65,000 H1-B visas H1-B visas for scientists, engineers, computer programmers and other professionals, every budget year. Of those, 6,800 are set aside for workers from Chile and Singapore under terms of U.S. trade agreements with those countries.High-tech and other employers say too few such visas are available and more are needed. Groups representing labor unions and high-tech workers say Americans are being replaced by foreign workers who work for less money.”I call upon Congress to be realistic and reasonable and raise that cap,” he said.For the budget year that begins Oct. 1, Bush proposes to spend $5.9 billion on the competitiveness plan. Some $4.6 billion would pay for the tax credit that U.S. companies get for investing in research and development projects.”You cannot run a business and plan to make long-term investments if the incentive program is only temporary,” Bush told about 300 employees at 3M, the industrial company known for its Scotch brand and Post-It supplies.The White House said midterm election politics were not a factor in deciding where Bush would travel to promote themes from Tuesday’s address to the nation.In Minnesota, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who introduced Bush, faces re-election. Also, there is an open seat in the U.S. House because GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy is running for the U.S. Senate, and there also is an open Senate seat because Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton is not seeking re-election.In his remarks at 3M, Bush scolded Congress for not making progress to fix the future solvency of Social Security. He appealed for passage of medical liability legislation and a measure to compensate asbestos victims and halt related lawsuits.The president asserted again that America, with an intense focus on developing alternative energy technologies to power automobiles, will be on its “way to no dependence on oil from the Middle East.”In his State of the Union address, Bush said his goal was to replace three-fourths of the country’s oil imports from the Middle East over the next two decades by developing alternative fuels.Senior administration officials acknowledged Wednesday that even if the president’s push for substitutes for gasoline and diesel were successful, the reliance on Persian Gulf oil by world markets – including the U.S. market – is unlikely to change.Bush’s main message, however, was about priming the budgets of federal laboratories and agencies to foster basic science research and strengthening math and science education.The president’s motorcade drove down Innovation Drive to visit a 3M business and graphics laboratory where a sign read “3M Innovation.” The president and first lady Laura Bush saw a 77-ton diamond turning machine that uses measurements used in nanotechnology, which is in dimensions 10 times smaller than the human hair.Vail, Colorado
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