Washington: Saying that 'no challenge is more urgent' than keeping the American dream alive, President Barack Obama virtually launched his re-election campaign hitting out at "outsourcing" with a call to bring "manufacturing jobs back" to America.
Declaring that "the state of our union is getting stronger", Obama in his third State of the Union address to a joint sitting of Congress on Tuesday pledged to fight obstruction by opposition Republicans saying America had come too far in its still sluggish recovery from economic recession "to turn back now".
Obama, who launches a three-day swing through five key election states on Wednesday offered both his administration's priorities for the coming year and his campaign messaging for his re-election bid in November.
While he did not name India in his tirade against outsourcing, Obama announced creation of a trade enforcement unit to investigate "unfair trade practices in countries like China", where a large number of American goods are made.
"No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits," Obama said as he defended a long list of his trademark policies -- tax increases on the wealthy, Wall Street reform, healthcare reform and government stimulus spending.
Describing the possibilities offered by what he called a "blueprint for an American economy that's built to last," Obama said: "Think about the America within our reach... a country that leads the world in educating its people."
He called for lowering corporate taxes and providing incentives for US manufacturers to bring overseas jobs back to America, while ending tax breaks for businesses that continue to outsource.
However, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Wipro Chairman Azim Premji said the US is over-reacting. "I think the US has become over-sensitive on the loss of jobs... I think it's getting over-hyped up and it will reach even bigger hyping up since elections are coming up," he said.
Meanwhile, Obama also said, every multinational company should pay a basic minimum tax while giving American manufacturers a tax cut.
"It's time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America," Obama said, adding a line that he repeated throughout the speech in a challenge to Congress. "Send me these tax reforms, and I'll sign them right away."
With unemployment still above eight per cent amid sluggish economic recovery, Obama framed the challenges facing the country as a choice between opportunity for some or giving everyone a chance to prosper.
The Republican response chided Obama for not addressing the nation's $15 trillion debt more forcefully, presenting a stark contrast in policy proposals and outlook to the president's more optimistic assessment of what has been accomplished and what is needed.
"It was irresponsible for him not to recognise the dire circumstances our country is in because of our debt," conservative Senator Jim DeMint said. "He spent his speech making some more promises from government."