Apple found, for instance, that it needed 8,700 engineers to oversee its iPhone production. China had them ready to work, but it would have taken 9 months to hire that many American engineers.

The late Steve Jobs, beloved for his products more than his politics, made appearances both in the president’s State of the Union address and the Republican response.

President Obama cited Jobs as an entrepreneur, saying, “We should support everyone who’s willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs. After all, innovation is what America has always been about.”

He went on to call for more assistance for small businesses and start-ups and renewed investment in basic research — the kind of direct, government-funded research that brought us the computer chip, the Internet and hydro-fracking technology for oil and natural gas drilling..

In the Republican response, Mitch Daniels used a broader brush: “The late Steve Jobs –– what a fitting name he had –– created more of them than all those stimulus dollars the president borrowed and blew.”

That’s not true about the stimulus, which, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, created between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs. And if you limit the jobs produced by Steve Jobs to those created in the United States, Daniels is way off the mark.

As The New York Times reported in a recent examination of the barriers to U.S. manufacturing, Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas. Compared to other U.S. computer makers — Hewlett-Packard employs nearly 350,000 Americans, Dell more than 100,000 — Apple is hardly a major employer.

In this country, that is. The Times reports that some 700,000 people are employed by contractors building iPads, iPhones and other Apple projects, almost all of them overseas, mostly in China.

Winning manufacturing jobs away from China is a tough, complicated business. It isn’t just that Chinese workers are paid less than Americans; it’s that the infrastructure is more modern, the government support is more generous and the workers have better skills. At a meeting with high-tech execs, Obama asked Steve Jobs what it would take to bring Apple’s manufacturing back to the U.S., and Jobs’ response, according to the Times, was this: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

Apple found, for instance, that it needed 8,700 engineers to oversee its iPhone production. China had them ready to work, but it would have taken 9 months to hire that many American engineers.

Reviving American manufacturing is a worthy goal, and there are some hopeful signs, including in the auto industry. But it will take more than tax cuts, especially tax cuts that don’t differentiate between money invested in creating jobs here instead of creating them in China.

What it will take are big changes in education, regulation and tax policies — all of which deserve spirited debate in the months to come.

-- MetroWest Daily News (Mass.)