WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama warned Monday the United States faces a new "Sputnik moment" in an increasingly one-world economy and said it must move dramatically to reclaim its place as the global leader.
Obama pressed anew in a North Carolina speech for an accommodation with Republicans on extending Bush era tax cuts, saying he would cede ground in his positions in order to help lawmakers reach a bipartisan compromise.
The president signaled a deal could be close, and said "we've got to make sure we're coming up with a solution, even if it's not 100 percent what I want or 100 percent what the Republicans want."
The president used much of his 10-day Asian tour recently to argue America's case for more open markets for U.S. goods, and in his remarks Monday at the Forsyth Technical Community College, he carried the appeal even further.
Proclaiming a "new Sputnik moment," Obama recalled the shock in this country over the Soviet Union's launch of the first satellite in 1957 and the national response that put America in the forefront of technology development. He said the most important competition for America today is not between Democrats and Republicans but with other nations.
In Washington, Democrats and Republicans are seeking a compromise in Capitol Hill talks on extending the Bush-era tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of the year. An outline is emerging that would temporarily extend the cuts for all taxpayers and extend jobless benefits for millions of American.
Obama said lawmakers are still engaged in "serious debate" as they work through differences. He reiterated his opposition to a permanent extension of tax cuts for top income earners, saying the country couldn't afford them.
The negotiations between the administration and lawmakers of both parties has centered on a two-year extension of current rates.
With the nation's unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent, Obama also said it was equally important for lawmakers to pass an extension of the jobless benefits.
Republicans have insisted that any extension of jobless aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. The White House opposes that, saying such cuts are economically damaging during a weak recovery.