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Obama Gives Major Policy Talk at Northwestern

President touches on topics aligning with IPR research


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President Obama spoke to a crowd of faculty and students at Northwestern's Cahn Auditorium on October 2, 2014.

In a major policy speech at Northwestern University before the upcoming midterm elections, President Barack Obama hit on themes of progress over the past six years that he said the country can and should be proud of—touching on many topics that are also the subject of IPR faculty research, from education and healthcare to innovation and opportunity.

University President, Professor, and IPR Fellow Morton Schapiro welcomed President Obama, saying he was "exceptionally proud to host our nation's president.”

Said Obama, “It’s great to be back at Northwestern,” recalling his 2006 commencement speech here when he was a U.S. senator.

Before a crowd of nearly 1,000 Northwestern students and faculty that included some of the president’s guests—Illinois Democratic policymakers, such as Governor Pat Quinn, Senator Richard Durbin, Representative Jan Schakowsky, the “mild-mannered mayor of Chicago” Rahm Emanuel, and Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl—the president spoke about the nation’s economy and how it holds “the best cards” for future success.

“This is a university brimming with possibilities of a new economy,” he said.

“You can’t help but visit a campus like this and feel the promise of the future, and that’s why I’m here,” he continued.

Obama touched on a wide range of recent indicators as successes of the past six years of his administration—touting the rebounding U.S. economy and in particular, the recent reawakening of American manufacturing, the nation’s role as an international leader, U.S. energy security and independence, and the Affordable Care Act, “aka Obamacare.”

He defended his administration’s track record with employment data from job creation to the unemployment rate—and declared that the American people were faced with “two starkly different visions for the country” for the upcoming elections.

“I believe with every bone in my body there is one clear choice because it is supported by the facts,” the president said, adding that Americans should rely on facts and empirical data when evaluating policies rather than getting their information from talking heads on television.

The president also called on policymakers from both sides of the aisle to support several initiatives that his administration has been working on, including boosting access to higher education, redesigning high schools, creating more high-quality preschools, reforming tax policy, and supporting family-friendly policies for working moms and dads.

“These are all topics on which IPR researchers have conducted high-quality research,” said IPR Director and education economist David Figlio, who attended the president’s speech. “When it comes to policymaking, IPR researchers see using strong, empirically sound research as a key component of the process of designing—and evaluating—sustainable and effective policies.”

Photo credit: J. Prisching, courtesy of Northwestern News