Will the US Government Be Influenced by Obama’s Idealistic State of the Union Speech?

Will U.S. President Obama compromise with Congress, which now has a Republican majority in both houses? The answer is no. Idealistic arguments aimed at his base, such as correcting the income divide through tax increases on the wealthy, and criticism of businesses that engage in corporate tax evasion accounted for a majority of the State of the Union speech. Will this influence the U.S. government? Japanese diplomacy, based on continuing stagnation, is necessary.

Mr. Obama stated this at the beginning of the speech: “So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.”

The State of the Union address is primarily for the president to communicate to Congress what policies he would like to move ahead with and legislation that will be necessary in the year ahead. A speech that seems to say the president is not counting on Congress is unusual. The Republican opposition has been increasingly confrontational toward Obama’s “go my own way” route.

What gives Mr. Obama confidence is the favorable U.S. economy. The ruling Democratic Party suffered a crushing defeat in the midterm elections last November, but the administration’s approval rating is on an upward trend against a backdrop of high stock prices. He sang his own praises in the speech, saying “our economy … creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999” and “Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.”

A maximum tax deduction of $3,000 for middle class and low income families with children. The creation of a system for paid sick leave. Free tuition at community colleges — equivalent to Japan’s vocational schools. The policy schedule Mr. Obama spelled out in his address was full of things unacceptable to Republicans, who push for small government.

Mr. Obama asked for “presidential authority” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Many Republicans support TPP, but it is unclear what will happen if partisanship intensifies.

Because of the focus on U.S. economic recovery, the Obama administration’s inward focus has become more pronounced. This statement sums up the administration’s fundamental policy for dealing with foreign enemies: “when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military — then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts.” Asking Congress to authorize the use of military force against the extremist group Islamic State is simply a counter-terrorism measure.

The beginning of diplomatic negotiations with Cuba — as illustrated by the agreement with China on measures against global warming — clarified the approach of placing the pivot foot of diplomacy on dialogue. He pushed for the establishment of rules for maritime issues, but did not mention China by name.

The possibility that China will take advantage of this conciliatory attitude to intensify its aggression toward Japan is undeniable. To prevent that from happening, it is necessary to repeatedly encourage the U.S. not to decrease its military presence in East Asia. A solution to the Futenma air base relocation issue in Okinawa is especially essential.

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