President Barack Obama urged Monday a refocus on scientific research and teaching, as was triggered by the launch of the Soviet's 1957 Sputnik satellite, saying it was key to future US prosperity,
Sputnik "was a wake-up call that caused the United States to boost our investment in innovation and education, particularly in math and science," Obama said at a training center in the southeastern state of North Carolina.
"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," the US leader said.
Over 50 years later, a new "Sputnik moment" has arrived, said Obama.
"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... We've got to rebuild on a new and stronger foundation for economic growth," he said.
"We need to do what America has always been known for: building, innovating, educating, making things."
The best solution antidote to a ballooning deficit, Obama said, is a growing economy.
"Cutting the deficit by cutting investments in areas like education, areas like innovation, that's like trying to reduce the weight of an overloaded aircraft by removing the engine," he said triggering laughter in the audience.
Obama, faced with a stiff battle in Congress over tax breaks and the prospect of political deadlock after Republicans won big in the recent midterm elections, vowed to "continue to fight" for investment in those fields, which, he said, will help America "win the race for the jobs and industries of the future."
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