Won't accept 'second place' as India, China closes gap: Obama

Last Updated : 28 January 2010, 06:08 IST

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"Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany's not waiting. India's not waiting," Obama said in his first State of the Union address to the Congress.

"These nations aren't standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place.
They're putting more emphasis on maths and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs," Obama said in his 69-minute-long prime-time speech.

Obama, who took over as the first black-American President on January 20 last year, said he will not accept a second place of America, the only superpower.

"Well, I do not accept second-place for the United States of America. As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth," he said.

Obama, who delivered his first State of the Union address against a backdrop of an American public worried about the fallout of  the meltdown, said the "worst of the storm has passed. But the devastation remains."

Obama said one in 10 Americans still could not find work, many businesses have shuttered and small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. The recession has also compounded the burdens of American families, he said.
"So, I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They're not new," he said, adding "Some are frustrated; some are angry".

To overcome the crisis, Obama proposed a USD 30 billion plan under which the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.

"These steps won't make up for the seven million jobs that we've lost over the last two years... The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long term economic growth," Obama said.

On Afghanistan, he said US is increasing troops and training Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011 and American troops can return home.
On Iraq, Obama said the US will support the Iraqi government will continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. "This war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home."

"We are working through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We are working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science, education and innovation," he said pointing out his country's pledge to reach out to the Islamic world.

Published 28 January 2010, 04:28 IST

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