In his State of the Union address, the president emphasized the importance of America leading in science and technology.
President Obama called upon America to reinvent itself during his State of the Union address.
He cited a fast-changing global economy which demands a high level of scientific and technical savvy to compete.
Among his proposed initiatives are investments in clean energy and education.
A revitalized President Barack Obama bluntly told America to reinvent itself and unite to survive in a fast-changing global economy powered by rising giants like India and China.
Obama's confident State of the Union address Tuesday mixed straight talk with a patriotic call to action, as called upon the country to unleash a torrent of innovation to transform the economy after the most brutal meltdown in generations.
Obama conjured up a sepia-tinted vision of an America left behind after globalization changed the rules overnight, bemoaning the loss of a working class lifestyle bankrolled by a decent paycheck and benefits.
"The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business," Obama said, noting that rising powers like India and China were now highly competitive.
But he added Americans should not give up the fight.
"Yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn't discourage us. It should challenge us," the president said, citing pathfinders from the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison to Google and Facebook.
"We need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.
"We do big things. Our destiny remains our choice," Obama added in a speech punctuated by multiple ovations that sought to consign two years of economic gloom to the past, as his 2012 reelection race stirs.
The president and members of his cabinet planned to fan out across the United States Wednesday to highlight the president's plan outlined in the speech.
Yet no new initiatives were unveiled in the speech for immediate job creation, with unemployment pegged at 9.4 percent. With its offer to redo corporate tax rates, the address also seemed another tack to the political center ground where U.S. presidential races are won.
But the address was sparse on policy nuts and bolts, and the idealistic call for unity appeared at odds with ugly Washington politics.
Obama dealt only sparingly with one of the most divisive issues, the $1.3-trillion U.S. deficit, though he said the budget gap needed to be constrained, and partially embraced recommendations of a bipartisan fiscal commission.
The president also warned that Republican plans to cut investments in education or innovation were like "lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine."
Republicans rejected his prescriptions.
"Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt," said Republican House budget chief Paul Ryan in his party's official response to the speech.
Reflecting divisions among Republicans, Ryan's was not the only response by his party.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann delivered an address tailored to the ultra-conservative "Tea Party" grass roots movement, which has challenged the authority of establishment party leaders in Washington.
Obama's address came with Congress chastened by the Arizona shooting rampage targeting a lawmaker that sparked calls to quell explosive rhetoric.
In a moving reminder of the tragedy, First Lady Michelle Obama sat next to the parents of a nine-year-old girl killed in the attack, and an aide who helped save Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in her box in the House chamber.
Meanwhile, dozens of lawmakers ditched the usual partisan seating plan to sit side by side, in a nod to Obama's call for civility after the shooting. They wore black and white ribbons to honor Giffords.
Obama called for a raft of measures to make America leaner, and more nimble in the global economy. His policy prescriptions included a plan to draw 80 percent of U.S. electricity from clean energy by 2035 and a school reform program to promote science and learning.