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Financials

UPDATE 7-Obama pushes spending freeze, outlines challenges

* Obama to seek centrist tone in State of Union address

* Spending freeze would only apply to certain programs

* Republicans gear up for budget fight (Updates with speech excerpts)

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will propose a freeze in some government spending on Tuesday but not enough to satisfy Republicans in a speech likely to strike a centrist tone looking ahead to his 2012 re-election bid.

Obama, seeking to assure Americans weary of 9.4 percent unemployment and fearful of rising debt, was to lay out his plan to reinvigorate economic growth in a State of the Union address at 9 p.m. (0200 GMT on Wednesday)

“We will move forward together, or not at all -- for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics,” Obama will say, according to White House excerpts.

Obama will say the country needs to increase its investment in research and education to achieve a “Sputnik moment” -- akin to the space race unleashed when the Soviets launched the Sputnik satellite in the 1950s. The aim would be to trigger a wave of innovation and create jobs at home.

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For full coverage of Obama’s speech, click on [ID:nSOTUS]

For graphics, click on r.reuters.com/cem67r

Reuters Insider link.reuters.com/jur67r

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Obama, at the midpoint of his four-year term and now preparing for his 2012 re-election campaign, will say that what’s at stake is “not who wins the next election.”

“At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded,” he will say.

The speech was taking place in a changed atmosphere on Capitol Hill. Resurgent Republicans enjoy increased power in Congress after November’s congressional elections and Obama was forced to take account of that shellacking by emphasizing areas where agreement might be possible.

“With their votes, the American people determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans,” Obama will say.

White House aides said Obama will call for a five-year halt on non-security, discretionary spending increases, extending a previous call for a three-year freeze. Such a freeze would not apply to big entitlement programs -- such as Social Security and Medicare -- at the heart of America’s deficit problem.

Discretionary spending, excluding money for security, makes up just 13 percent of the $3.7 trillion U.S. budget. (Additional reporting by Alister Bull, Caren Bohan, Matt Spetalnick, Ross Colvin and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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