Wednesday, January 25, 2012

President Obama’s State of the Union Address

January 25, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

Most of president Obama’s State of the Union address for 2012 was focused on domestic agenda, the hallmark of which was jobs creation and revival of declining economy. He mentioned the foreign policy issues in passing with reiteration of unequivocal support for the state of Israel.

The larger part of his one hour address was devoted to his past three years’ achievements towards creation of jobs and improvement of economy that he hinted was crippled during his predecessor’s time. He also claimed the mammoth laurel of killing Osama Ben Laden, weakening the Taliban’s network and recalling the American soldiers from Iraq and troops drawdown from Afghanistan.

In his Tuesday speech he has briefly yet succinctly laid out the outlines of his agenda and manifesto for the forthcoming elections. It is a kind of preemptive maneuver to face his Republicans rivals who would bend every conceivable effort and pull every possible trick to dislodge him from the presidency.

Giving a bird-eye view of the so called Arab spring, he pointed out that while Col Qaddafi, with blood of Americans on his hands was dead, the Syrian dictator Bashar will have to yield to the mounting public outburst against his regime and he too will have to relinquish power.

He pledged that Iran would not be allowed to pursue her nuclear program and that she would be further pressurized and isolated in all manners to desist from the development of nuclear technology that would eventually enable her to make a weapon.
President Obama skipped the detailed mentioning of Afghan imbroglio except hinting that several thousand troops would be heading home by the end of the current year.

He even did not mention Pakistan or Afghanistan that are major partners in America’s war on terror and coalition partners in her decade long war against Taliban and other anti American elements. Nor did he outline the scenario that would emerge after the American forces leave Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, he exuded optimism that with the complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and a sizeable portion from Afghanistan this year, the money thus saved could be spent on rebuilding American aging and obsolete roads, decrepit highways and crumbling bridges. Underlining his accomplishments in reviving the automobile industry, he hoped America would now be in a position to export cars to other countries.

His cardinal clarion call however, was about the immigration reforms the he mainly addressed to the Republican Congressmen and urged them to “at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country.” He vehemently asked the Congress to “send him a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”

He also strongly advocated absorbing those foreign students within the United States, who are forced to leave America after completing their studies this benefitting other countries with their skills, expertise and knowledge that they acquire here.

He announced that outsourcing would now be discouraged. His agenda for revival of fragile economy included a plan to take back tax breaks from American enterprises that were outsourcing jobs in foreign countries. Simultaneously he proposed new tax concessions for manufacturers that will work in United States.

He proposed as high as 30 per cent tax on the wealthy classes earning a million dollars or more and for the lower income sections almost half of that. He exhorted the Congress with both the rival parties to approve tax reforms, job creation plans, downsizing government, and that he was ready to sign these into a law the next day.

Another important part of his speech was to rollback tax cuts on oil companies in favor of investments in clean energy sources. He proposed tax incentives for the homeowners to help them to save $3,000 a year on their mortgages which would also buoy up the sluggish housing market. He expressed his firm resolve to go ahead with his economic agenda irrespective whether it was approved by law makers or not.

While he held iron-clad guarantees for the security of Israel, he did not say even a word about the Palestinians’ right of statehood that he has been vociferously pronouncing in his previous state of union addresses. It clearly demonstrates that now he is taking a partisan position in favor of Israel in order to woo the strong Israeli lobby in Congress and elsewhere for support in the forthcoming elections.

Obama’s speech was a well calculated strategy to set the tone and unfurl a prelude for the next elections as the American people were less interested in foreign affairs and more on jobs and continuation of their social and utility services and benefits. He dwelt on the populist themes to win the waning support of the Americans for him who overwhelmingly voted for him in the 2008 elections, hoisting him to the presidency of United States.

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