Barack Obama is delivering his State of the Union address. Unsurprisingly he’s started with mention of the fact that U.S. troops have pulled out of Iraq, before going on to point out that Osama bin Laden is dead, and that al-Qaeda’s leaders have been defeated.
It didn’t take time for him to start taking a dig at Congress, pointing out the contrast between U.S. forces working together and those institutions that don’t, vowing to “fight obstruction with action.” He also mentioned early on the need for an economy where everyone has a fair shot and “everyone plays by the rules.” This is a theme that’s likely to come up regularly, especially if the wealthy Mitt Romney gets the Republican nomination – Romney is already being hit hard over the release of his tax returns, which showed him paying a tax rate of about 15 percent.
The first mention of China has come with the claim that it is becoming increasingly expensive for firms to do business there, and that the U.S. has a chance “to bring manufacturing jobs back” to the United States. How? By tackling the tax code, Obama argues. “If you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax reduction for doing it.” Second, he said that no American company should be allowed to avoid “paying its fair share of taxes” by moving operations overseas. He also called for a basic minimum tax for multinational companies.
Second Asia mention was of the export opportunities for the U.S. economy, and he pledged that consumers in Seoul would be buying cars made in Detroit.
China has come up again with Obama’s pledge announcement of his plan to create a trade enforcement unit that will investigate “unfair trade practices in countries like China.” If the president is to engage in any China bashing, expect it to be pegged to this theme of “fairness” that will be the overarching one of his presidency.
The focus is shifting to domestic policy, specifically education. I’ll be back with any more on foreign policy shortly.