Obama: ‘Our Generation’s Sputnik Moment is Back’

By Jared

Dec 6, 2010 2:54pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: Declaring that the nation’s “Sputnik moment” is back, President Obama today called for additional investment in innovation and education nationally in order for America to compete with other countries yet again. “50 years later, our generation’s Sputnik moment is back,” President Obama said from Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “This is our moment.  If the recession has taught us anything, it’s that we cannot go back to an economy that’s driven by too much spending, too  much borrowing, running up credit cards, taking out a lot of home-equity loans, pay for — paper profits that are built on financial speculation.  We’ve got to rebuild on a new and stronger foundation for economic growth.  We need to do what America has always been known for:  building, innovating, educating, making things.” Recalling back to 1957 when the Soviet Union beat America into space, the president said that served then as a “wake-up moment,” to boost the nation’s investment in innovation and education. The time is again now, he said today before students, faculty and local officials at the community college, for a similar wakeup call. The president did not roll out any new proposals today, but the White House said those would come in the future, perhaps within the State of the Union address. “This is a framing speech to talk about what we should be focused on here, going into the next year.  And you’re going to hear a lot more about this in the coming months,” Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton told reporters aboard Air Force One, adding that this will likely be one of the focuses of the president’s State of the Union address early next year. The president said that America is “in danger of falling behind,” in the competition and that the nation needs to stay competitive by growing the economy. “There’s going to be a debate in Washington, over the next year and over the next couple of years and maybe over the next five years, because I will argue and insist that we cannot cut back on those investments that have the biggest impact on our economic growth. ” The president insisted though that the nation cannot stop making investments, adding that the best antidote to a growing deficit is a growing economy.  As they scour the budget for cuts in the months ahead, he said, he’ll still continue to fight for investments to help the nation “win the race” for jobs and the industries of the future. “Cutting the deficit by cutting investments in areas like education, areas like innovation, that’s like trying to reduce the weight of an overloaded aircraft by removing the engine. It’s not a good idea. There may be there may be some things you need to get rid of, but you’ve got to keep the engine.” The president said that there should not be any “inherent ideological difference” that prevent both parties from making the economy more competitive. “If we’re willing to put aside short-term politics, if our objective is not simply winning elections but winning the future then we should be able to get our act together here, because we are all Americans, and we are in this race together,” he said. “If this is truly going to be our Sputnik moment, we need a commitment to innovation that we haven’t seen since President Kennedy challenged us to go to the Moon.” –Sunlen Miller

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