WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2016 - In a campaign-style State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday night, President Obama forcefully and repeatedly pushed for action on climate change, defended immigrants, and made pitches for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and ending the embargo on Cuba.

Obama also took several thinly veiled digs at the leading Republican presidential candidates, billionaire Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who skipped Obama’s final SOTU speech. “Food Stamp recipients didnt cause the financial crisis,” Obama said, and “immigrants arent the reason wages havent gone up enough.” The answer to overseas instability and terrorism, he said at another point, “needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians.”

Obama took aim at congressional Republicans and denial of climate science. “When the Russians beat us into space, we didnt deny Sputnik was up there,” he emphasized. And he pushed clean energy development, but he pointedly referred only to renewable power, not biofuels. “Weve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy.  Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.”

He couched his pitch for congressional approval of the 12-nation TPP in the context of mobilizing coalitions and advancing American leadership globally to protect U.S. economic security. He likened negotiating the trade deal to working out the Iran nuclear agreement and solving problems such as the Ebola crisis in Africa.

“Thats how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia,” he said. “It cuts 18,000 taxes on products Made in America, and supports more good jobs. With TPP, China doesnt set the rules in that region -- we do.  You want to show our strength in this century?  Approve this agreement.  Give us the tools to enforce it.” 

Opening up trade with Cuba would help “consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere,” Obama said. “Recognize that the Cold War is over.  Lift the embargo.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be promoting both the TPP and the administration’s trade policy on a conference call with reporters and business leaders Wednesday.

American Soybean Association President Richard Wilkins applauded the president’s commitment to international trade.  "We understand that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is going to be a heavy lift this year, but we are excited to continue our press to see it passed by our Congress and ratified. The promise of the TPP for soybean farmers is too great to accept anything less, and we are very encouraged to hear the president continue his focus on the TPP in the year to come.


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