Obama outlines four-point agenda for the future

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley labels U.S. President ‘divisive’.

U.S. President Barack Obama has outlined a four-point agenda that he said was about focusing on the future beyond the next year — making the economy work for everyone, making technology work for everyone, retaining American leadership in the world “without becoming its policeman,” and overcoming the current hostility in U.S. domestic politics.

In his last State of the Union address, Mr. Obama said despite the growth in manufacturing and employment, the nature of the global economy allowed workers less leverage for a raise and encouraged companies to “put quarterly earnings over long-term returns.”

Outlining his idea of America’s global leadership in the coming decades, which he said would be of instability in West Asia, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia, Mr. Obama said: “We can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis.”

He said threats came not from evil states, but from failing states. “Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right,” Mr. Obama said, listing the new opening with Cuba, the nuclear deal with Iran, the Trans Pacific Partnership that would limit China and establish U.S. leadership in Asia as examples of his internationalism.

Vice-President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, who sat right behind Mr. Obama through the one-hour speech, represented the extreme emotions that Mr Obama evokes — adulation among supporters and total rejection among critics. Speaking for the Republican Party, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley agreed with Mr. Obama that there were lots of “irresponsible talk”, but blamed him for that. “He is divisive.”

Mr. Obama said for the American leadership to sustain, the country had to fix its internal politics. One of the few regrets of his presidency, he added, was “that the rancour and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.”