President Obama called for a burst of innovation in the U.S. economy.

Warning of a future where America could lag other nations, President Barack Obama on Dec. 6 called for more spending on education, innovation, and infrastructure to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Without detailing specific new proposals, the president told community college teachers and students it was time for an American “Sputnik moment,” referring to the 1957 Soviet satellite launch that jolted the U.S. into jump-starting its own space and science programs.

“We need a commitment to innovation we haven’t seen since President Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon,” Obama said.

The speech was a preview of Obama’s State of the Union address early in 2011, and his 2011 agenda as he grapples with a divided Congress over the next two years, aides said.

“Right now the hard truth is this,” Obama said. “In the race for the future, America is in danger of falling behind. That’s just the truth. And if you hear a politician say it’s not, they’re just not paying attention.”

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