WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address Tuesday to ask the nation to meet the challenges of a global economy, framing what he called a competitiveness agenda that includes traditional Democratic proposals like increased education spending, alongside gestures to Republicans seeking deep budget cuts.
Mr. Obama said the nation needs to address its rising budget deficit but couldn’t afford to back away from new spending on programs that he said would allow the U.S. to compete with rising powers like China and India—an approach Republicans were quick to reject as unaffordable. Mr. Obama also laid out areas of potential cooperation between the parties, such as a call to rewrite the corporate tax code.
The president answered Republican calls for steep budget cuts with a far more modest proposal to freeze a portion of government spending for five years. The bulk of his speech had larger aims: to recapture the policy initiative after his party’s devastating losses in November and to inspire a nation worried about its place in a sometimes threatening global economy.
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