WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said this week's State of the Union address will focus on ensuring the US can compete with economic rivals, boost jobs and trim the deficit.
In a video to supporters that previews the nationally televised Jan 25 speech, Obama said that even with 9.4 percent unemployment, the economy is once again growing, corporate profits are on the rise and more than 1 million jobs have been created over the last year.
Obama said he will be pivoting from responding to the financial crisis that occupied much of the first two years of his presidency to meeting longer-range economic challenges.
"My principal focus, my number one focus, is going be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future," Obama said in the video released on Saturday. "I'm focused on making sure the economy is working for everybody, for the entire American family."
The theme of boosting the country's ability to compete with emerging economies such as China and India is one the president has been sounding since his trip to Asia last November.
During a Dec 6 speech in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Obama said the nation faces a "Sputnik moment" - a reference to the Soviet Union's launch of the first satellite in 1957, ahead of the US.
Obama earlier last week hosted a state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao, leader of a nation viewed as both an economic rival and a promising export market. On Friday, Obama named General Electric Co's chief executive officer, Jeffrey Immelt, to head a group of outside advisers called the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
With more than half of GE's revenue coming from outside the US, Obama said Immelt "understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy".
Obama said on Friday to maintain that competitive edge the US must stay the most "dynamic economy in the world" and make sure that future generations can "compete with workers anywhere in the world".
"Now to do that, we're going to have to out-innovate, we're going to have to out-build, we're going to have to out-compete, we're going to have to out-educate other countries," Obama said. "That's our challenge."
With the speech marking the beginning of a politically divided Congress, Obama urged Republicans and Democrats to work together to find common ground on economic and security issues "even as we're having some very vigorous debates".
Chief among those challenges is reducing the more than $1.2 trillion US budget deficit. White House allies have been told not to expect a detailed budget plan in the speech, though the president will call for tough choices and may offer examples. Obama didn't indicate how he would address the recommendations from his bipartisan deficit commission, including a proposal to cut social security benefits.
(China Daily 01/24/2011 page14)