July 16, 2018 | ° F

Obama: US open for business

In his third “State of the Union” address, President Barack Obama called for a revival of the nation’s manufacturing sector and the closing of many tax loopholes responsible for losses of revenue.

Obama focused largely on the economic situation of the United States and its need to bring business back to its coasts. He also introduced the Trade Enforcement Unit, which will investigate unfair trade practices in countries like China.

“Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last — an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers and a renewal of American values,” he said.

Building on achievements from his mandate, Obama said the United States has to repair its formerly prospering manufacturing sector and look toward exporting more of its products to countries like South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The United States signed bilateral trade agreements in 2011 with each of them.

Obama said in the last 22 months, businesses have created three million jobs, American manufacturers are once again creating jobs and for the first time since the 1990s, they are hiring workers.

“This blueprint begins with American manufacturing. On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die,” he said. “Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s No. 1 automaker.”

He said other industries should look at the auto industry’s successes and copy its model.

 “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” Obama said. “Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

He said he would work toward continuing a trend of job creation and deficit-cutting.

“As long as I’m president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum,” he said. “But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.”

He said there needs to be a tax code reform in which companies that choose to stay in the United States get a tax break while limiting breaks for those who choose to outsource.

“From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax,” Obama said. “And every penny should go toward lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here.”

American manufacturers should get bigger tax cuts, while high-tech manufacturers should get even greater cuts, he said.

“My message is simple. It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America,” Obama said.

He also spoke of keeping taxes low for the bottom 98 percent of Americans while keeping taxes at or above 30 percent for people earning $1 million per year.

“If you make under $250,000 a year … your taxes shouldn’t go up,” Obama said. “You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.”

He said Congress must act before next summer when the rate for students loans will double, placing further pressure on students already struggling to pay for higher education.

John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said he noticed the president addressed the issue of student loans in an attempt to appeal to the young voter block, which in 2008 helped his election.

“It seems to me that there was a significant outreach to students, pointing out that the rate of student loans will go up next summer, talking about environment and energy,” Weingart said.

He also said the “State of the Union” resembled former presidents’ addresses, which incorporated his accomplishments and future plans in the case of a possible re-election.

“It’s a very thin line, being president and running for re-election — they have a large area of overlap — in which he wants to talk about what he’s accomplished and wants to accomplish, and that’s what presidents traditionally do,” Weingart said.

On Obama’s re-election chances following this address, Weingart said the president gave a good speech, which informs voters of what he plans to do in the future.

“With so much focus on the Republican candidates, it is a reminder to the Republicans that they are facing a formidable opponent,” he said.

It is also a way of attracting some of the Democrats who were left disillusioned in the past three-and-a-half years, Weingart said.

By Aleksi Tzatzev

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