一般教書演説 再選へ意欲を見せたオバマ氏

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 27, 2012)
Obama shows determination to win reelection
一般教書演説 再選へ意欲を見せたオバマ氏(1月26日付・読売社説)

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday delivered the annual State of the Union policy address, which made clear his confrontational stance against Republicans in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

In his address, he cited sustainable economic growth and help for the middle class as top-priority issues.

Apparently determined to win reelection later this year, he said he would aim to rejuvenate the economy by revitalizing the manufacturing sector at home, developing natural gas and other domestic sources of energy, improving the skill of American workers and creating more jobs.

Although the U.S. economy has been picking up, there is a strong sense of uncertainty about its future prospects.  米国経済は持ち直してきたとはいえ、景気の先行き不透明感は強い。

Housing prices remain low, while the jobless rate hovers around 8.5 percent.

Obama's approval ratings remain in the lower half of the 40 percent range, primarily due to widening income inequality.

With the president having been unable to give the people their fair share of the fruits of economic recovery, despite his promise to bring about "change," prospects for his reelection are becoming murky, with the light turning to the yellow of caution.


Frustration with Republicans

No matter how much he wants to implement employment measures and other economic stimuli, they cannot be realized without congressional support.

In Congress, the rivalry between the Republicans and the Democrats has been intensifying, making it ever more difficult for bills vital for implementing policies to be passed.

In his speech, Obama said he would fight "with action" those who obstruct the realization of his policies, which can be taken to indicate his strong frustration at the Republicans who dominate the House of Representatives as the majority party.

One important agenda item for his administration in the days ahead is tax system reform.

In his speech, Obama called for higher taxes on wealthy people who pay a lower tax rate than middle-income earners, while also making efforts to trim social security spending.

Obama was apparently conscious of the fact that wealthy Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and one of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, has been criticized for paying a tax rate of only 14 percent on the millions of dollars he made in 2010.

Romney paid a lower tax rate than many Americans do because of the preferential taxation of investment income compared to earned income. But Obama also intends to target Republicans who have consistently opposed tax hikes for the wealthy.


Japan's stake in outcome

While the race for the Republican presidential nomination advances, the presidential election will also go into full swing from now on.

The future course of the U.S. economy will have a strong impact on the Japanese economy.

We would like to pay close attention to the verbal battle regarding the economic rejuvenation during the presidential election campaign.

In the area of diplomacy and national security, Obama expressed once again his national defense strategy, which emphasizes Asia.

As part of the fiscal deficit reduction, the United States will cut defense spending by about 500 billion dollars (about 38 trillion yen) over the next 10 years.

Yet if Congress fails to reach an accord on concrete measures to cut the deficit by more than 1 trillion dollars within this year, more drastic budget cut will be made.

Such a development will have a serious impact on the national security of Japan.

We should also pay attention to the battle of words regarding deficit reduction.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 26, 2012)
(2012年1月26日01時13分 読売新聞)

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