In early February, the President released his $2.8 trillion budget for FY2007. By and large, the budget did not focus on addressing the needs of families. Many of the proposed budget cuts and 141 program eliminations were in social, educational and health programs that benefit families. However, the President’s emphasis on research and development, investment in science and math education, and energy independence, were bold and welcome ideas. Moreover, the President’s proposal to establish Career Advancement Accounts, which could allow up to 800,000 people annually to pay for training or tuition costs to update their skills or develop new skills, is a good idea. This proposal is similar to the Personal Reemployment Account proposal the President made in 2003. However, this time the proposal is more preventative medicine than simply reactive action. One problem with our current workforce system of trade adjustment assistance and unemployment insurance is that its largely reactive—workers only have access to new funds for training if they lose their job or the factory shuts down. The Career Advancement Accounts would allow workers to upgrade their training or acquire new skills before they lose their jobs, or to allow them to change careers or gain skills to start their own business. This forward-looking idea is better suited for an economy where the average worker now changes jobs on average every five years.
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