by The Opportunity Agenda, Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 03:01:26 PM EST
President Obama’s State of the Union address and the Republican Response by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell each called, as they should have, for a renewed focus by government on jobs and the economy. Within that broad charge, however, there was another, more surprising, point of agreement—at least at the rhetorical level. Both speeches challenged our government to focus simultaneously on creating greater and more equal opportunity.
The President declared that “we need to invest in the skills and education of our people,” and announced initiatives that The Opportunity Agenda has long promosted, including sidestepping banks to provide increased college aid directly to disadvantaged students through Pell grants and tax credits instead of loans, doubling the child care tax credit, incentivizing job creation through our tax code, and moving forward on commonsense immigration reform.
At the same time, he invoked “the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you will be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.” In this connection, he announced strategies that we’ve long called for, including vigorous equal opportunity enforcement by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, abolishing discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans in the military, and pursuing full compliance by employers with equal pay laws for women and men doing the same jobs.