Monday 30th January 2012

Obama state of the union public domain photograph

President Obama unveiled plans last Wednesday to implement tax incentives that would lure US manufacturing companies back to US soil along with the jobs they have moved overseas and renewed his appeal for visa reforms that attract key talent to U.S. soil.

Offshoring attacks

After meeting with executives from the aerospace, chemical and furniture industries, Obama asserted that the trend for outsourcing production and manufacturing jobs overseas should be reversed in favor of “insourcing.”

“We’re at a unique moment, an inflection point, a period where we’ve got the opportunity for those jobs to come back,” Mr. Obama said in the White House, after meeting with the executives and he went on to reveal that the numbers of manufacturing jobs available in the United States has increased over the past two years, after more than ten years of losses.

“I don’t want America to be a nation that’s primarily known for financial speculation, and racking up debt and buying stuff from other nations,” he added. “I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words, ‘Made in America.’ ”

According to Obama, China’s increasing labor costs entails that their previous cost advantages over the U.S. were gradually being eroded and this represented an ideal opportunity to reopen markets for American exports. Jared Bernstein, the former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. agreed: “There’s been a little bit of momentum on ‘insourcing’ because a lot of firms overdid it, so it could help a bit at the margin.”

An appeal for visa reform

In what has been perceived by many to be an extremely risky political move, Obama also called for comprehensive immigration reform and asserted that he would do everything in his power to reinstate the Dream Act, a bill which permits young people that once entered the United States illegally at a young age to attend college or military establishments with the ultimate aim of receiving full citizenship. It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million immigrants would qualify for the Dream Act.

In addition to this, Obama pushed for a comprehensive immigration reform plan that includes letting foreign businessmen and entrepreneurs immigrate to the U.S. He asked congress to review the number of visas available for highly skilled expatriates and recommended the number of visas available to students who had studied in the United States were increased, explaining that many individuals obtain a US degree only to take their talent out of the country as a result of a lack of expatriate visas. Although he warned that such reforms would not be possible in the near future, he did add that he would take small steps to lessen the burden:

“If election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country,” he said, before adding, “The opponents of action are out of excuses.”

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