WASHINGTON — Under pressure to energize the economy, President Barack Obama said Saturday he will use his State of the Union address to outline an agenda to create jobs now and boost American competitiveness over the long term.
Heading quickly into re-election mode, Obama is expected to use Tuesday's prime-time speech to promote spending on innovation while also promising to reduce the national debt and cooperate with emboldened Republicans.
Focused on economy
"I'm focused on making sure the economy is working for everybody, for the entire American family," Obama said Saturday in an uncommon preview of his speech, offered up in an online video to his supporters late Saturday afternoon. The president announced that the economy would be the main topic of his speech, a nod to how important that issue is to the country's standing and his own as well.
At the halfway point of his term, Obama said the economy is on firmer footing than it was two years ago: it is growing again, albeit slowly, while the stock market is rising, and corporate profits are climbing. But with the unemployment rate stubbornly stuck above 9 percent, Obama will signal a shift Tuesday from short-term stabilization policies toward ones focused on job creation and longer-term growth.
No details on address
Obama offered no details on specific proposals he will call for in his address, though he has offered hints in recent weeks.
Perhaps the clearest came in an overlooked speech in North Carolina last month, one that will likely serve as a template of what the nation is about to hear. Obama said then that making the U.S. more competitive means investing in a more educated work force, committing more to research and technology, and improving everything from highways and airports to high-speed Internet.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama also highlighted free trade as a way to increase U.S. exports and put Americans to work.
"That's how we'll create jobs today," Obama said. "That's how we'll make America more competitive tomorrow. And that's how we'll win the future."
Obama's challenge will be to find the money and political will to spend it, at a time when he's pledged to reduce spending and tackle the mountainous debt. In his preview to supporters Saturday, Obama said he would emphasize fiscal restraint Tuesday, but didn't go into detail, saying only that any spending cuts should be done in a "responsible way."