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In Case You Missed It: President Obama’s Sputnik Moment Nose-Dives

- April 15, 2011

‘President Obama's Sputnik Moment Nose-Dives’
Excerpts From Politico

By: Abby Phillip
Friday, April 15, 2011

President Barack Obama anchored his State of the Union address with a call for increasing investments in areas such as education, infrastructure and innovation — targeted spending he said would help create jobs and strengthen the country while the administration also tackled ballooning budget deficits.

He spoke in epic terms as he described America’s challenge to “win the future” after a period of economic turmoil.

“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment,” Obama said in January. “We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to outinnovate, outeducate and outbuild the rest of the world.”

But in recent weeks, Republicans have shifted the conversation in an entirely different direction. Instead of talking about small increases to select programs, Washington is preoccupied with preserving existing programs from cuts at every turn.

As Obama celebrated the budget compromise he struck with Republicans, the soaring Sputnik rhetoric had vanished …

Former Clinton policy adviser Bill Galston said the public viewed Obama’s ambitious 2012 budget as adding to the deficit problem, even though the White House emphasized it would also reduce the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years.

“The problem with the administration’s stance in January with the State of the Union and in February with the budget was that it seemed to be an ‘invest but don’t cut’ strategy,” Galston said …

“It’s interesting how far we’ve moved in such a short time,” said Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution.

Hess says that while Obama may have succeeded in doing some investing while negotiating with Republicans, the public focus has shifted dramatically toward cuts.

“The public — like the politicians — has moved on,” Hess said. “They’re not seeing an awful lot of talk about investments today.”

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