Washington, Jan 25 (IANS): Virtually launching his re-election campaign, President Barack Obama hit out at "outsourcing" as he called keeping alive the American dream "the defining issue of our time" and pledged to fight obstruction by opposition Republicans.
While he did not name India in his third annual State of the Union address to a joint sitting of Congress on Tuesday, Obama announced creation of a trade enforcement unit to investigate "unfair trade practices in countries like China".
"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, health care reform and government stimulus spending.
"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.
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.
At the same time, Obama 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 8 percent amid a 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 defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive," the president said. "No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important."
He also challenged Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform, a major election-year issue for the important Hispanic-American vote. Short of a major overhaul, he called for legislation like the DREAM Act that provides children of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military a path to possible citizenship.
In the official Republican response, conservative Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said that "it's not fair and it's not true for the president to attack Republicans in Congress as obstacles".
"No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favour with some Americans by castigating others," Daniels said.