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Obama asks new generation to face 'Sputnik moment'

In his annual State of the Union address, Barack Obama warns of the global threat to the United States’ economic power.

Image: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/LANDOV/Press Association

BARACK OBAMA has used his annual State of the Union address to warn the US Houses of Congress that the country’s economic power and worldwide influence is at risk from the growth of China.

Speaking to a joint meeting of Congress, Obama said that the present generation of American citizens faced a “Sputnik moment” which would require a massive government cash injection into education, research and infrastructure – a move that would require the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to backtrack on demands for an era of austerity.

“Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon,” the Guardian quotes.

“The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist.  But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets – we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.”

The current generations would need to plot an equally radical response to the current threat of US being usurped as the world’s largest superpower, Obama suggested, pledging to shortly unveil a radical investment Budget that would put his radical investment programme into practice.

Despite pleas for bipartisan work to create jobs and economic growth, the plan is likely to face stiff opposition from his political opponents in the Republican party, which controls the House of Representatives.

Nonetheless, however, ABC notes that the seating arrangements in the chamber – where Democrats and Republicans paired off, in a gesture intended to pay tribute to Tuscon shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords.

Obama’s full speech is below.

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Gavan Reilly

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