The State of the Union Address to the 112th Congress

January 25, 2011

By Padmini Arhant

President Barack Obama is scheduled to address the 112th Congress later today on the administration’s achievements and lay out the future national and international goals.

The economy is the central focus for the main street considering the high unemployment, struggling housing market with alarming foreclosures, credit crunch experienced by small businesses and average Americans despite the bank bailouts to facilitate lending to qualified entrepreneurs as well as retailers in the credit market.

Manufacturing sector other than auto industry deserves fair attention in the globalized economy. The blue collar jobs lost over the decades since adopting the overwhelming globalization policy has triggered trade wars, currency disputes and contributed to disproportionate trade surpluses and deficits among economic powers.

Even though protectionism is overtly rejected by G-20 members, the current economic situation beckons national investments to stimulate domestic growth and purchasing power required to import goods in the world trade exchange.

Contrary to the conviction, protectionist measures to promote local manufacturing and subsequently consumerism will offset the existing trade imbalance and uplift the economically disadvantaged groups in the society.

Most nations like China have diverted to internal demand and supply partly from the currency controversy that provided enormous leverage to the world’s leading manufacturer at the poorer and rich nations’ detriment evident in the importers’ job status notwithstanding the rising national debt.

The MFN status renewal by the United States is another factor attributed to the trade anomaly.

United States is adapting to the changing trend with investments in infrastructure and green technology but yet to gain momentum across the industrial spectrum given the job statistics.

Corporate America responsible for the industrial growth is attracted to offshore dealings predominantly due to economic advantages such as subsidized labor and weak environment standards including tax evasion incentives offered in some parts of the world.

Although legislations passed until now from health care, financial reform, Bush Tax cuts extension to impending energy bill favor corporate agenda through lobbyists influence in Capitol Hill, the prevalent defection confirms the exceedingly high profit expectations at the ordinary citizens’ expense.

National deficit reduction is a relevant debate right now. Regrettably, the strategies are aimed at the demography worst hit in the economic recession.

Spending cuts is exclusively targeted at essential services rather than trimming the discretionary defense budget and the military expenditures in the ongoing wars especially when acknowledged to have no implications on national security.

Revenue is not part of the equation with tax exemptions granted to the top 1% wealthiest against the remaining population contributing to the economic revival through vital retail consumption.

Austerity is necessary to contain national debt.

However, the proposals protecting the affluent elitist with a direct impact on the vast majority – the real victims in the economic downturn reflects the promise delivered to the campaign donors and not the electorate casting the ballots to alleviate their plight.

In other legislative matter – the successful passage of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal’ is a precedence to honor the constitutional and basic human rights of all citizens regardless of individual identity.

Education is the fundamental tool for economic progress in any society. The Congressional provisions in this regard are poignant nonetheless the effects seemingly compromised with the State budget crisis at the historic peak.

Again slashing public education funds considered under the current House bill would constitute misplaced priorities depriving the economy from productive workforce and future taxpayers.

Environment laws initiated in 2009 marginalized and reversed in 2010 with decisions like offshore drilling resumption, EPA regulations delayed…emanating from energy industry pressure.

Foreign Policy – Continuation of the previous administration legacy intensified with consistent pattern established in coup d’état and destabilize foreign governments – viz. Honduras, Ecuador, Lebanon…

Appointment of inefficient and unpopular governments in Iraq, Afghanistan…demonstrating power politics.

North Korea peace talks offer in July 2010 through former President Jimmy Carter ignored.

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process – jeopardized with conflicting interests.

Maintaining double standards in conventional arms supply and nuclear programs undermines the crucial START treaty.

The reality being Wall Street rules Washington in economic matter meanwhile the military industrial complex reigns control over warfare and foreign policy.

Change is possible when the republic governance is restored in a democracy.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

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