President Obama yesterday invoked the specter of a “Sputnik moment” in competitiveness facing the country and re-emphasized his commitment to invest in innovation, infrastructure and education during a speech in North Carolina.
Here’s the meat:
You go to Shanghai, China, and they’ve built more high-speed rail in the last year than we’ve built in the last 30 years. The largest private solar research and development facility in the world was recently opened in China -– by an American company. Today China also has the fastest trains and the fastest supercomputer in the world.
In 1957, just before this college opened, the Soviet Union beat us into space by launching a satellite known as Sputnik. And that was a wake-up call that caused the United States to boost our investment in innovation and education -– particularly in math and science. And as a result, once we put our minds to it, once we got focused, once we got unified, not only did we surpass the Soviets, we developed new American technologies, industries, and jobs.
So 50 years later, our generation’s Sputnik moment is back. 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, 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. We don’t 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.” That’s our goal.
That’s why even as we scour the budget for cuts and savings in the months ahead, I will continue to fight for those investments that will help America win the race for the jobs and industries of the future -– and that means investments in education and innovation and infrastructure. I will be fighting for that.
We’ve got to have a long-term vision about where we want to be 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now.