President Barack Obama on Monday spoke of a broader vision for the U.S. economy, saying that Americans need to seize new opportunities to remain competitive with other nations.
Mr. Obama visited the Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a state that like others has lost tens of thousands of jobs to foreign competition.
His purpose was to focus on jobs created there under the Recovery and Re-investment Act approved in the early days of his administration, and to issue what amounted to a call to action for the economy.
Referring to the launch by the former Soviet Union in 1957 of Sputnik, the first earth-orbiting satellite, the president said the United States is falling behind other nations and needs a broader vision to secure its place as the world's economic leader.
"We need to do what America has always been known for; building, innovating, educating, making things," said President Obama. "We do not want to be a nation that simply buys and consumes products from other countries. We want to create and sell products all over the world that are stamped with three simple words: Made in America."
The remarks were heavy with comparisons to China, South Korea, and India, countries that he said pose fierce economic competition by focusing on educated workers, research and technology and quality infrastructure. The United States, Mr. Obama said, is not keeping up.
"There is no doubt that we are well-equipped to win," said Obama. "But as it stands right now, the hard truth is this. In the race for the future, America in danger of falling behind."
Mr. Obama referred again to what he called "chatter" in Washington about the next presidential election in 2012, saying politicians of both major parties need to focus on long-term economic goals rather than short-term political interests.
"So those of us who work in Washington have a choice to make in the coming weeks and months," he said. "We can focus on what is necessary for each party to win the news cycle, or the next election. We can do what we have been doing. Or we can do what this moment demands, and focus on what is necessary for America to win the future."
Deputy Press Secretary Burton described the president's North Carolina remarks as the beginning of a process in which Mr. Obama will roll out new ideas and proposals aimed at moving the economy forward, some of which will be presented in his State of the Union Address early next year.
President Obama also again signaled the urgent need to address the $1.3 trillion government budget deficit and long-term debt. The administration and Congress, he said, will have to be bold and courageous in eliminating un-needed or unaffordable spending and government programs.
But the president said he intends to stand firm against cutting investments in education and other areas he says will have the biggest impact on future U.S. economic growth.