Obama Calls for New Era of Innovation

President says nation must 'out-innovate' the rest of the world in State of the Union address.

A revitalized President Barack Obama bluntly told America to reinvent itself and unite to survive in a fast-changing global economy powered by rising giants like India and China.

Obama's State of the Union address Jan. 25 mixed straight talk with a patriotic call to action, as he rode a tide of improbable political momentum less than three months after a Republican mid-term election rout.

"The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business," Obama said, noting that rising powers like India and China were now highly competitive.

But he added Americans should not give up the fight.

"Yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn't discourage us. It should challenge us," the president said, citing U.S. pathfinders from the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison to Google and Facebook.

"We need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world."

The president and members of his cabinet planned to fan out across the United States Wednesday to highlight the president's plan outlined in the speech.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were to travel to Wisconsin and Indiana to visit companies seen as having successfully made the adaptations that have allowed them to hire workers and invest in industries of the future.

Yet no new initiatives were unveiled in the speech for immediate job creation, with unemployment pegged at 9.4%. With its offer to redo corporate tax rates, the address also seemed another tack to the political center ground where US presidential races are won.

Obama called for a raft of measures to make America leaner, and more nimble in the global economy. His policy prescriptions included a plan to draw 80% of U.S. electricity from clean energy by 2035 and a school reform program to promote science and learning.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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