Tech Remains In Obama's Sights During Historic Inauguration

Obama's plans are expected to include digitizing health care records and increasing broadband to rural and underserved parts of America.
The 44th president of the United States did not let his focus on technology falter even as he delivered an inspirational speech during his historic inauguration as the first black man to hold the nation's highest elected office.

Not surprisingly, Obama's remarks on technology came as he addressed problems with the economy.

"For everywhere we look, there is work to be done," he said. "The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost."

He added that the United States would use solar, wind, and other natural energy for fuel, while transforming the country's educational system "to meet the demands of a new age." Obama's rhetoric served to point out that his long list of goals can be achieved.

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans," he said. "Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."

Obama also hinted at technology's impact on politics and policy, saying the ground has shifted and brought regular citizens to the forefront and increased the need for accountability.

"The stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply," he said. "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

Obama stressed that our problems and the tools to fix them are new, but the values that will drive our success are old: hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism.

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task," he said.

Prior to his inaugural address, Obama hinted at steps his administration would take in improving IT for Americans, including digitizing health care records within five years, delaying the Feb. 17 broadcast switchover to digital signals, and increasing broadband deployment in rural and unserved areas of the country.