President Obama believes the U.S. must play a larger and long-term role in the Pacific region. And since taking office, he has put words into action. In recognition of the region’s influence on the direction of world politics, economics and security in the decades to come, he ordered a “rebalancing” of America’s foreign policy toward Asia. To support American exports, growth and jobs, he won passage of a major market-opening agreement with South Korea and initiated negotiations on a high-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that will create new export opportunities across Asia – and jobs here at home.
To deepen and strengthen ties, President Obama became the first American president to attend the East Asia Summit and also the first to meet with the leaders of all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He inaugurated the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China and met with China’s president more than 10 times. He honored India, the world’s largest democracy, in the first State Dinner of his presidency. And he came to the aid of U.S. allies Japan and Korea during times of need – following a tsunami, nuclear meltdown and belligerent actions from North Korea.
At home, his decisions reflect his belief in embracing the diversity of America – and fostering opportunity for all Americans. He has appointed an unprecedented number of Asian American cabinet members, such as Secretary of Energy Chu and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki, as well as the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer. The president appointed Ambassador Locke to serve as the first Chinese American ambassador to China. Furthermore, he more than doubled the number of Asian Americans sitting on the federal bench to 17 federal court judges.
President Obama understands that education is the gateway to prosperity – supporting school reform via Race-to-the-Top, doubling Pell Grant scholarship funding and investments in community colleges. He also recognizes that entrepreneurship and innovation are the backbone of the U.S. economy. He enacted 18 small business tax cuts – and financed 19,000 Small Business Administration loans to Asian-American-owned businesses. He provided tax incentives and investments in clean energy technologies, launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership and passed historic patent reform legislation to help American entrepreneurs bring inventions to market sooner.
But what President Obama understands most is our nation’s strength is our people – and that immigration reform is crucial to America’s prosperity. That’s why when Congress refused to act on comprehensive immigration reform or the DREAM Act, the Obama Administration took steps to lift the shadow of deportation from responsible young immigrants who were brought to America as children. And that’s why he will continue to fight to pass comprehensive immigration reform in a second term. With our help, President Obama has accomplished so much, but there’s still more to do.
Our nation is at a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and must look forward and continue to make the key middle-class investments that ensure prosperity for the next generation. President Obama is laying the foundation for an economy built to last, one that benefits all Americans and believes America succeeds when we’re all in it together. He is a president for all Americans – whether they support him in an election or not.
With President Obama, together we can embrace the future, strengthening our communities and bridges to Asia that will help ensure prosperity for our children and grandchildren for decades to come. That’s why it’s so important that we all do our part and make sure our voices are heard in this election. Voter registration deadlines are quickly approaching, and in some states you may be able to vote before Election Day so don’t forget to register and vote early when possible. You can check out where you can vote early in each state by going online tovote.barackobama.com.
Chu is a national co-chairman of the Obama for America campaign and chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Honda is DNC vice chairman and chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.