In June of 2006, then-Senator Obama delivered what was called the most important speech on religion and politics in 40 years. Speaking before an evangelical audience, then-Senator Obama candidly discussed his own religious conversion and doubts, and the need for a deeper, more substantive discussion about the role of faith in American life. He has continued to foster open dialogues on faith across the political spectrum throughout his career.
The President believes a healthy discussion of faith in a pluralistic society includes the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate, and sincere respect on all sides. President Obama has found common ground in the importance of faith in the global battle against AIDS in particular.
Our nation's creativity has filled the world's libraries, museums, recital halls, movie houses, and marketplaces with works of genius. The arts embody the American spirit of self-definition. As the author of two best-selling books — Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope — President Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.
President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed advocates for children. They will make sure that every child has health insurance, expand educational opportunities for low-income children, extend resources for low-income families, support and supplement our struggling foster care system, and protect children from violence and neglect.
President Obama will keep the broken promises to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur. Within weeks of his inauguration, he made a renewed commitment to partner with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild now, stronger than ever.
In the past, government funding for scientific research has yielded innovations that have improved the landscape of American life — technologies like the Internet, digital photography, bar codes, Global Positioning System technology, laser surgery, and chemotherapy. At one time, educational competition with the Soviets fostered the creativity that put a man on the moon. Today, we face a new set of challenges, including energy security, HIV/AIDS, and climate change. Yet, the United States is losing its scientific dominance. Among industrialized nations, our country's scores on international science and math tests rank in the bottom third and bottom fifth, respectively. Over the last three decades, federal funding for the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences has declined at a time when other countries are substantially increasing their own research budgets. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe federally funded scientific research should play an important role in advancing science and technology in the classroom and in the lab.
President Obama did not grow up hunting and fishing, but he recognizes the great conservation legacy of America's hunters and anglers and has great respect for the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sports. Were it not for America's hunters and anglers, including the great icons like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our nation would not have the tradition of sound game management, a system of ethical, science-based game laws and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue the sport. The President and Vice President recognize that we must forge a broad coalition if we are to address the great conservation challenges we face. America's hunters and anglers are a key constituency that must take an active role and have a powerful voice in this coalition.
As our society becomes more mobile and interconnected, the need for 21st-century transportation networks has never been greater. However, too many of our nation's railways, highways, bridges, airports, and neighborhood streets are slowly decaying due to lack of investment and strategic long-term planning. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe that America's long-term competitiveness depends on the stability of our critical infrastructure. They will make strengthening our transportation systems, including our roads and bridges, a top priority. In the Recovery Act and his first budget proposal, the President made investment in high speed rail a key investment.