Obama’s social agenda

The advanced capitalist world has shown a rightward shift for some years

The most striking aspect of US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address is its boldness — in terms of its stubbornness to pursue a domestic agenda for the non-rich, and in the realm of foreign affairs to pursue a path of diplomatic negotiation, rather than military confrontation, to roll back Iran’s nuclear programme which, if unchecked, could provoke a demonstration effect in West Asia.

Mr Obama’s Democratic Party fared poorly in the mid-term election for the US Congress only a few months ago, and this may have imbued his opponents, the Republicans, with over-confidence for the presidential election two years hence. This is precisely what the US leader sought to dent with his address. He has promised in the remaining two years of his term to advance the social agenda — in the areas of education and healthcare in particular, going to the extent of indicating free community colleges. The money is to come from taxing ultra-rich individuals and financial institutions with overflowing coffers.

In unveiling this ambitious programme, the US President is no doubt leaning on the upturn in the American economy. But he has also shown the nerve to take on his political rivals on political and ideological questions and challenged the standard Republican view that cutting taxes — rather than raising them — leads to greater public well-being.

The advanced capitalist world has shown a rightward shift for some years. Mr Obama is seeking to reverse the economic orthodoxy of the right. Many in India may hope for similar social sector agenda from their government.

( Source : dc )
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