U.S. faces new ' Sputnik Moment '
Discusses economy, tax cuts and unemployment benefits
(WRAL) Winston-Salem, N.C. — President Barack Obama said Monday during a visit to a North Carolina community college that the U.S. needs to put more emphasis on math and science education and worker training.
Obama also told a select group of students and faculty at Forsyth Technical Community College and Winston-Salem business leaders that he was confident that Congress would agree on legislation to extend income tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the month.
"A middle-class tax hike would be very tough not only on working families but would also be a drag on our economy," he said.
Any compromise needs to include extending jobless benefits to millions of unemployed Americans, he said.
"It's the smart thing to do," he said. "If millions of Americans who aren't getting unemployment benefits stop spending money, that slows down business. That slows down hiring. That slows down our recovery."
Earlier Monday, Obama and Gov. Beverly Perdue toured two biotechnology classrooms at Forsyth Tech and talked with students and faculty.
During his speech, he noted that the U.S. has fallen from first to ninth place worldwide in terms of the percentage of its population with college degrees. He also cited studies that show the U.S. lags in math and science education.
"The most important contest we face is not between Democrats and Republicans. It's between America and our economic competitors around the world," he said. "In the race for the future, America is in danger of falling behind."
China, India and other countries are now investing more in education and infrastructure than the U.S., Obama said. He compared the global economic challenge to the space race of the 1960s between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and said the U.S. must take action to meet a new "Sputnik 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 (and) running up credit cards," he said. "We've got to rebuild on a new and stronger foundation for economic growth.
"We need to do what America's always been known for – building, innovating, educating, making things," he continued. "We don't want to be a nation that simply buys and consumes things from other countries. We want to create and sell products all over the world that are stamped with three simple words: Made in America."
Vowing to return the U.S. to the top position worldwide by 2020 in the percentage of college graduates, he called for more spending on education while trimming other spending to cut the federal deficit, saying the U.S. cannot afford to cut back on programs that affect future economic growth. He noted that Forsyth Tech students are learning on equipment bought with federal stimulus funds.
"The best antidote to a growing deficit is a growing economy," he said. "Cutting the deficit by cutting investments in areas like education (and) innovation is like trying to reduce the weight of an overloaded aircraft by removing the engine. It's not a good idea."
Obama also called for investing 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product in scientific research in areas like renewable energy to produce new industries and jobs. He said tax credits for research and entrepreneurial investment are needed, and he suggested allowing businesses to be able to write off all capital investments they make in 2011 to jump-start the economy.
The U.S. also needs to work to expand its exports – Obama has set a goal of doubling exports within five years – and to invest in infrastructure, he said.
"We're the nation that built the transcontinental railroad. We're the nation that took the first airplane into flight. We constructed a massive interstate highway system. We introduced the world to the Internet. America's always been built to compete," he said. "If we want to attract the best jobs and businesses to our shores, we've got to be that nation again."
B4B NOTE: WARNING ! (Major Ignorance Ahead) It is NOT The President but the DEM Senators who " will CAVE " and extend tax cuts for the rich. But the Professional Left and fellow whiny, ignorant Lefties will blame THE SENATOR'S caving on The President ! Intentional sabotage to help the evil side will lead to America's demise. Just SAD ! (and I repeat....IG-NO-RANT !!!) MEANWHILE, The President is faced with the Senate (both sides) holding the extension of unemployment benefits literally as hostage which FORCES him to go against his actual wishes of tax cuts for only $250K and under in order to help over 4 million struggling Americans. He stated from day one that he could NOT do it all on his own...that he would need OUR help. That meant demanding that our legislators (Senators and Congresspeople) do the right thing. But instead, he has only been self-destructively abandoned by many of his weak, so-called supporters and ignorantly blamed through lack of knowledge and understanding of basic 8th grade civics and the legislative process. Everyone caught using the phrase " Obama should...." needs to be reminded....this is NOT a dictatorship ! Ignorance is Dangerous ! P.S.S. After the tax cut for the rich is extended for 1 or 2 years, expect the conniving GOP, aided by corporate media, to rant that companies STILL can't hire until the cuts are permanent. (you'll hear the 'uncertainty' word over and over) They'll then use their future intentional lack of job creation as 'proof' that they need a Republican majority in the Senate and a Repub President in 2012 in order to REALLY create jobs. And unless there is a significant case of Americans waking up....they will indeed succeed. (and America will TRULY suffer.)