Charles Dharapak/AP

Obama backs ambitious government but warns of limits on effectiveness

Government is a “force for good,” he says, but must be "leaner and more efficient."

President Obama accepted his party’s nomination for president Thursday with an ambitious plan for addressing a series of national challenges and a qualified defense of government.

“We don’t think government can solve all our problems,” Obama said of himself and his fellow Democrats. “But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems.”

While proposing a series of initiatives aimed at boosting the economic recovery, Obama told assembled delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., that ”not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington.”

The president pledged to improve federal management, saying “those of us who believe government can be a force for good should work harder than anyone to reform it, so that it’s leaner, more efficient, and more responsive to the American people.”

Obama called for “bold, persistent experimentation” on the part of government, in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt. “Our challenges can be met,” he declared.

By contrast, Obama argued, “over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing.”

Obama urged Americans to rally around a set of goals for the country in the areas of manufacturing, energy, education, national security and deficit reduction.

Obama’s specific proposals included recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years and training 2 million workers for new jobs.

The president also pledged to maintain support for the American military and veterans. “We will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known,” he said. But he ridiculed GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s stance on defense spending, saying, “my opponent will spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want.”