Obama's first State of the Union address since his reelection was largely and predictably dedicated to nearsighted deficit talk and weary calls to overcome congressional dysfunction. But amid the boilerplate—and the comparatively impassioned calls for action on gun control and, to a lesser extent, climate change—Obama snuck in some radical, forward-looking ideas. Some are downright utopian. SOTUs are notorious for being lofty wishlists, so consider these proposals Obama's wildest political fantasies.
Here's how the president wants us to win the future this time, in his words:
1. Transform Declining Towns into 3D Printing Hubs
A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the-art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns. So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs… to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.
Obama was referring to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio, where the Department of Defense provided a $30 million startup grant, matched by a consortium of big-name corporations, universities, and nonprofits; NASA, the National Science Foundation, and others are expected to help fund the center, which opened in August and will select its first round of projects next month.
2. Spend Money on Science Like We're in a Space Race
"Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race."
Despite some cringe-worthy problems that can come with pretending we're in a space race (oversimplification, insularity, fear), investing in science and technology can leave fantastic long-term effects on the economy—assuming you have politicians behind you who actually get science. And it turns out that this is a big assumption. (By the way: Despite that asteroid that's buzzing Earth this week, Obama made no actual mention of traveling to asteroids or anywhere else in space.)