In John Kao's book Innovation Nation, describes a scenario for he US to become a leader in technology. It describes how Singapore, Finland, China are spending large amounts on technology in many fields.
Obama wants to build bridges and the infrastructure and bring back jobs that won't help America be more competitive.
From NYTimes Magazine
From there, Obama moved the conversation toward a discussion of how the government could improve the nation’s infrastructure — its backbone of bridges, roads, tunnels, airports and the like, much of which has seen better days. Since the dawn of the Age of Reagan, the idea that government spending can be a good thing for the economy has been out of favor, even among Democrats. But it’s now making something of a comeback, particularly within Obama’s camp. His agenda calls for about $50 billion in new annual spending on various investments, including infrastructure, alternative energy and scientific research. (To put that in perspective, the cut in the payroll tax would cost about $70 billion a year.)