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Friday, December 1, 2023

Can Obama influence anything with his State of the Union speech?

President Barack Obama delivers the State of Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House chamber in Washington last year.  (AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool, File)
President Barack Obama delivers the State of Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House chamber in Washington last year.
(AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool, File)

Key elements of the economic proposals President Barack Obama will outline in his State of the Union address Tuesday appear to be aimed at driving the debate in the 2016 election on income inequality and middle-class economic issues, rather than setting a realistic agenda for Congress.

Obama’s calls for increasing taxes on the wealthy, making community college free for many students and expanding paid leave for workers stand little chance of winning approval from the new Republican majority on Capitol Hill. But the debate over middle-class economics is looking critical for the coming campaign.

“Inequality_and especially the growing opportunity gap_have become the top litmus test of seriousness for 2016,” said Robert Putnam, a Harvard political scientist who has discussed inequality issues with the president and his advisers. “The entry ticket for the presidential sweepstakes is that you have a policy — some policy — for dealing with this issue.”

Indeed, potential Republican candidates Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney have been talking openly about income inequality and the need to give lower-earning Americans more opportunities. On the Democratic side, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appears intent on keeping the party focused on a populist economic agenda, even if she doesn’t plan to run for president herself.

As the nation’s attention increasingly turns to the 2016 election, the Obama White House is making clear that it still wants to set the terms of the economic conversation.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, appearing in a nationally broadcast interview Tuesday morning, said Obama is determined to improve the lives of middle-class Americans. “His mindset is to keep doing everything he can for the middle class,” McDonough said on “CBS This Morning.”

He said the president wants to make sure “we’re doing everything we can to make sure that middle-class families can succeed.” McDonough said that Obama will not hesitate to veto legislation that doesn’t improve the lot of the middle class.

The president’s advisers argue that the debate over income equality is one that Democrats have won previously, including in Obama’s victory over Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign and the fiscal cliff fight with Congress that led to the raising of George W. Bush-era tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.

However, Obama no longer has the political advantage on Capitol Hill that he would need to enact more tax increases. When Obama addresses Congress Tuesday night, he will be standing before a Republican majority in both chambers for the first time in his presidency.

The president and GOP leaders have spoken about their desire to compromise, but the opening weeks of the new Congress have offered few glimpses of where both sides plan to find common ground. Obama’s economic proposals will do little to move the White House and Republicans closer together, given the GOP leadership’s aversion to raising taxes on wealthy Americans.

The president’s proposal would increase the capital gains rate on couples making more than $500,000 annually to 28 percent, require estates to pay capital gains taxes on securities at the time they’re inherited, and slap a fee on the roughly 100 U.S. financial firms with assets of more than $50 billion.

Administration officials said much of the $320 billion in new taxes and fees would be used for measures aimed at helping the middle class, including a $500 tax credit for some families with two spouses working and a $60 billion program to make community college free.

Obama is also asking lawmakers to increase paid leave for workers. And he’s moved unilaterally to lower a mortgage insurance rate that could help attract first-time homebuyers.

The White House cast the president’s measures as steps that can help keep up economic momentum amid a recent spurt of growth that has also seen the unemployment rate fall below 6 percent.

There has been little Republican support for much of what the White House has rolled out ahead of Obama’s address.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the White House’s tax proposal “the same old top-down approach we’ve come to expect from President Obama that hasn’t worked.” And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is weighing a bid for the GOP presidential nomination, said the president’s approach was outdated.

“Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful,” Rubio said.

In keeping with State of the Union tradition, first lady Michelle Obama will watch the speech along with invited guests whose stories bring to life some of the policies the president will tout.

Among those joining Mrs. Obama for this year’s speech are Alan Gross, who was released from a Cuban prison last month as part of Obama’s decision to normalize relations with the communist island nation; Chelsey Davis, a student from Tennessee who plans to graduate community college in May; and Dr. Pranav Shetty, who has been working on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The effort to control Ebola is expected to be one of the foreign policy matters Obama addresses in a speech. While the president is not likely to make any major foreign policy announcements, he is expected to tout the formal end of the Afghan war, update the nation on the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and urge lawmakers not to enact new sanctions on Iran while the U.S. and its partners are in the midst of nuclear negotiations with the Islamic republic.


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2 thoughts on “Can Obama influence anything with his State of the Union speech?”

  1. The unequivocal statement that he will veto any measure passed by Congress that does not benefit the middle class was both a declaration to the Republicans not to send him crap. It also gave the president wiggle room to sign legislation that is the result of compromise between the WH and Congress.

  2. Obama should be impeached for not following the constitution he swore to defend, and supporting terrorism that resulted in crimes against humanity, and the loss of lives.

    Obama has grandiose ambitions to grow government but little forethought on how to run it. Resulting in the highest mistrust in government in years.

    1. Violating Immigration Law And Illegally Implementing The DREAM ACT without congressional approval, and not enforcing immigration laws.

    2. For releasing 8 Taliban terrorists, 5 in exchange for one deserter, Bowe Bergdahl, without giving congress the 30 day notice he is required to give.–2014-8

    3. Lying to sell Obamacare To The American People, and then illegally changing Obamacare. Saying, “The Republicans won’t work with us,” or more disturbingly, “It’s politically convenient,” is not an excuse for overriding the Constitution of the United States.

    4. Political profiling by the IRS, the IRS in 2010 compiled a “be on the lookout” (“BOLO”) list to identify organizations engaged in political activities. The list included words such as “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” and “Israel”; subjects such as government spending, debt, or taxes; and activities such as criticizing the government, educating about the Constitution, or challenging Obamacare. The targeting continued through May of this year.

    5. For violating freedom of speech. In an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment, the Obama Justice Department ordered criminal investigations of FOX News reporters for doing their jobs during the 2012 election year.


    6. Without Congressional approval, Obama gutted the work requirement for welfare recipients

    7. In violation of law for the President or any American to reveal classified military secrets. Obama exposed the identity and method of operation of the Navy SEALs team that conducted the operation killing of Osama bin Laden. 22 SEALs were shot down and killed in Afghanistan.

    8. Operation Fast & Furious which put thousands of American-made semi-automatic weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels and resulted in at least one death, U.S. Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry. Investigators suspect that Fast & Furious was an effort by the Obama Administration to discredit lawful gun ownership in America by purposefully creating gun crimes.

    9. The FCC regulated the Internet despite a court order from the Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. stating that the FCC does not have the power to regulate the Internet.$file/11-1355-1474943.pdf

    10. Abusing the public trust and the taxpayers with unnecessary luxurious vacations and travel. The Obamas have spent over 44 million dollars in taxpayer money on travel and vacations.

    Why Obama is a terrorist.

    The Obama administration lied to cover-up for terrorists in Libia.

    Obama sold weapons and military equipment to Qatar who is known to support terrorists.

    Obama funded the terrorist group Hamas.

    Obama waves ban on arming terrorists.

    The Obama administration recruits terrorists.

    Obama allows terrorists to immigrate to the United States.

    Obama arms terrorists.

    With all these weapons ending up in the hands of the enemy does this deter Obama? No it does not, he just keeps sending more.

    Egypt charges Obama with crimes against humanity.

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