Defiant Obama challenges Congress on sticky issues
Obama began and ended the 65-minute speech by praising U.S. troops for unity and teamwork that can serve as a model for facing the country’s problems.
He called for lowering corporate taxes and providing incentives for U.S. 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 challenge to Congress he repeated throughout the night to send him a bill that he pledged to sign “right away.”
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 response to Republican criticism of his energy policy, Obama said to applause he was ordering his administration to open up 75% of potential offshore oil and gas resources. At the same time, he also said U.S. oil production was at the highest level in eight years, countering GOP claims he was stifling oil development.
On income taxes, Obama repeated his longstanding call for the wealth to pay more in taxes, including a specific proposal for millionaires to have a tax rate of 30%. Earlier Tuesday, millionaire Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney revealed his actual tax rate was lower than 15%.