In State of the Union Speech, Obama to Urge a Skeptical Congress to Back …

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

In State of the Union Address, Obama Is to Move Past Hardship and Reset Goals.

The question facing President Obama as he delivers his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday is whether his final two years in the White House can come close to repeating the successes of his first two.It did for eight people, including Victor Fugate of Butler, Mo., who told President Barack Obama how his policies helped them overcome personal hardship. He has neither the Democratic majority that ushered through major bills revamping the nation’s fiscal and health-care systems, nor the sky-high poll ratings he had shortly after taking office. 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.

In a series of speeches last week, Obama signalled his intention to devote greater emphasis to domestic and military cybersecurity in 2015, citing recent breaches as “a reminder that cyber threats are an urgent and growing danger”. 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. But coming off a midterm election defeat that handed full control of Congress to Republicans, the president faces long odds in actually enacting his agenda and in essence is trying to frame the debate for his remaining time in power and for the emerging 2016 contest to succeed him. Despite the massive, high-profile hacks of Sony, Target and Home Depot, new legislation will struggle to gain traction, said Anindya Ghose, professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “I don’t think anyone wants to see another Sony. 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.

The group includes Alan Gross, the Maryland man who returned home last month after five years imprisoned in Cuba, astronaut Scott Kelly and the top executive of CVS Health, Larry Merlo. Ghose said the Sony attack, which the Obama administration claims was orchestrated by North Korea and which revealed the personal details of 50,000 Sony employees, was the perfect example of how cybersecurity and personal data protection were linked.

For the past year, he has courted confrontation with congressional Republicans, defying them with go-it-alone initiatives on climate change, immigration and foreign policy. His address to Congress on Tuesday — which will be aimed more at the broader public than the lawmakers sitting before him — will reflect this strategy. Privacy advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), have called on Obama to strengthen consumer protection.

Obama’s senior adviser, said Monday. “We have proof that President Obama’s strategy is working, and the Republicans now have a Chicken Little problem — all the doom and gloom they predicted did not come to pass.” Republicans cast Mr. How much longer are Americans going to tolerate the Republican view of taxation that claims the rich are “job creators” while the rest of us are living off their largesse? Among their guests Tuesday are several Cuban activists, former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who is afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. At the Federal Trade Commission earlier this month, Obama argued that customers ought to know when sensitive data like credit card information has been compromised, and previewed a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” he wants Congress to pass by late February. Gross, a former federal subcontractor, was freed from Cuba last month as part of Obama’s historic announcement that the United States would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.

We’ll always have a legislative strategy for what we want to try to accomplish, but we’ll also have a bully-pulpit strategy where we try to convince states and cities and companies to try to adopt those policies.” But the president is not writing off the GOP-controlled House and Senate, aides say. Obama’s recent proposals have failed to win the support of privacy groups. “The Obama administration is on a roll with proposing legislation that endangers our privacy and security,” EFF’s Mark Jaycox and Lee Tien wrote in a blog post last week, calling Obama’s recent proposals “recycled ideas that have failed in Congress since their introduction in 2011. In defying reality, they said, he simply wants to return to the tax-and-spending ways of the past. “I see this as the president returning to the theme of class warfare,” said Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois. “It may have been effective in 2012, but I don’t find it to be effective anymore. He will need their support if he wants to expand significantly on a domestic policy record that already includes the economic recovery, the Affordable Care Act, the first carbon limits on power plants, broad regulatory changes for financial institutions and the deferral of possible deportation for millions of illegal immigrants. “For the policy of trade, he’s going to have a different coalition than with the policy of immigration or than with surface transportation,” said James Thurber, a professor who directs American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.

They should stay on the shelf.” Any new bill will also face intense lobbying from Silicon Valley and the advertising community, which is keen on protecting their access to a treasure trove of marketable data. 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. But it remains unclear how easy it will be to muster any of those alliances, as they will depend in part on Republican leaders’ willingness to edge aside conservative members of their party at a time when the 2016 presidential contest is well underway. David Le Duc, senior director of public policy at the Software and Information Industry Association, a lobby group for the software and digital content industry, said: “We agree with the goal of securing people’s privacy but we are concerned that a broad, overreaching approach will affect the ability to maximise the economic and social use of data.” Le Duc said that technology was evolving and restrictive legislation would stifle that progress. “We already have one of the strongest systems in the world,” he said. “A lot of us enjoy tremendous benefits from apps that are customised and immediate based on our preferences and likes.

Obama has used the period since his party’s election defeat to reassert himself through a climate agreement with China, executive action to liberalize immigration rules and a diplomatic rapprochement with Cuba. This isn’t economic populism or “wealth redistribution” or “class warfare” or the other excuses conservatives like to trot out when they defend a tax system that favors the rich.

Going too far to limit that to protect our ‘privacy’ would not be an effective endeavour.” Thus far, Obama has framed his forthcoming cybersecurity proposals in terms of consumer protection, following the high-profile data breaches at consumer companies. His long-sagging approval ratings in polls have gone up, reaching 50 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News survey, a nine-point jump since December, although other polls have not measured quite as big an increase.

But the president’s going to keep bullying and overreaching until there’s a pushback.” Obama and his aides, by contrast, seem eager for a conflict that will put their differences with the GOP on full display. While the US military’s emphasis on cybersecurity is rapidly expanding – it plans to field 6,000 “cyberwarriors” by next year, triple its 2014 levels – that rush has tended to focus on what technical experts consider the least likely cyber vulnerabilities: those that compromise or destroy physical systems. “There’s a strong likelihood that the next Pearl Harbor we confront could be a cyber attack,” Leon Panetta, Obama’s second defense secretary, warned in 2011. Unemployment has fallen to 5.6 percent, gasoline prices are down, stock markets are up and the economy grew by 5 percent in the third quarter of last year, its fastest rate in more than a decade.

CVS Health pulled cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products from its store shelves last year, a move that was applauded by Obama, a former smoker. The administration is determined to finalize its proposed rule limiting greenhouse gas emissions on existing power plants, set aside more public land for conservation and strike a global climate deal when the United Nations convenes negotiations in Paris at the end of the year.

But other aspects of Obama’s proposals have attracted criticism for expanding intelligence and law-enforcement access to private data, which privacy advocates worry will leave that data less secure. Jim Messina, who managed the president’s reelection campaign and still serves as one of his closest outside advisers, said Obama “is laser focused on the talks in Paris” and has pressed world leaders repeatedly in an effort to lay the groundwork for a meaningful international climate agreement.

A new joint venture with the United Kingdom, announced last week, will bring the two countries’ already-close security agencies into deeper cooperation over cybersecurity. A study recently released by Oxfam projects that the world’s richest 1 percent will soon own more than half of the world’s total wealth — likely by sometime next year. But lately, he has been pushing the nation’s economic prospects more robustly and without as many caveats, saying it is time to move to a new stage. “Over the last six years, we have been weighed down by the legacy of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” Mr. Does anyone think the yacht-and-mansion crowd can’t afford to pay a little more in taxes or that somehow paying a slightly higher capital gains tax rate (28 percent, which was the same as existed under President Reagan, instead of 23.8 percent) will cause the super-wealthy to stop investing altogether? He also is ready to begin an initiative, in concert with next year’s National Park Service centennial, that aims to get every fourth-grader in the country into a national park.

Resurrecting a long-stalled idea, the president also wants businesses, and particularly financial institutions, to secretly share observed digital attacks on their networks with the government. But the National Security Agency would receive access, prompting fears that the government will both make an end-run around warrant requirements for private information and stockpile or use previously unknown vulnerabilities, undermining the secure internet Obama advocates in other contexts. The president wants to use some of this revenue from these changes in the tax code to finance not only a tripling of the child care tax credit for children under age 5 but to raise the deduction for working couples with children.

But Obama has intensified his efforts on issues that helped propel his candidacy, such as accelerating the transfer of prisoners from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in recent months. The data-sharing proposal has powerful advocates: it is the top legislative priority of the current NSA director, Admiral Michael Rogers, as well as his predecessor. Sparked by revelations of the NSA undermining encryption and collecting vast swaths of personal data, civil libertarians have reacted to the information-sharing proposal with alarm.

Bernstein said of the president. “ ‘What you got?’ ” But Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director who has advised Republican leaders, said Mr. Obama may not be able to convince the country that he has made enough progress fixing the economy. “It will be an uphill battle, as his policy record on growth is not strong, the recovery is still unsatisfying and the inequality message is not popular, which is why he abandoned it so quickly after declaring it the issue of our time,” he said. Meanwhile, his nominee for defense secretary, Ashton Carter, has likened the Edward Snowden leaks to a “cyber Pearl Harbor”, a conceptualisation that places more emphasis on data insecurity than on the potential for physical destruction. But there is something to be said for a president having an economic plan for this nation and expressing it clearly and unabashedly while looking into the faces of his harshest critics who are, of course, free to offer their customary counter-arguments. She introduced Obama last year when he visited Los Angeles Trade-Technical College to promote technical skills programs. – Astrid Muhammad, of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Obama has no popular mandate for his latest initiatives. “We just had an election in which the president said his policies were on the ballot,” he said. “Hard to see what is different today than 60 days ago.” In laying out his agenda, Mr. She obtained coverage under the law last year and had surgery to remove a potentially fatal brain tumor that was diagnosed when she had no health insurance. – Carolyn Reed, of Denver. While they want to approve the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline, cut costly regulations and adjust the health care law to spare more businesses with part-time workers, Mr. The president’s “proposals are so out of touch you have to ask if there is any point to the speech,” Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, said in a Twitter message. Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the president’s tax plan was “a nonstarter” that would not help businesses grow. “More government, a $300-plus billion tax bill from Barack Obama, is not the formula for this country to succeed,” he said.

Zamora wrote Obama about her experience and says her parents will also be eligible for protection under his recent executive actions on immigration. – Chelsey Davis, of Knoxville, Tennessee. The University of Hartford freshman once had to rise at 4:30 a.m. to get to school after his family was evicted and living in a homeless shelter hours away. Pham is a government computer scientist who works to improve health information technology, expand access to benefits for veterans and improve how government provides services. –Capt. A husband and father of six, the veteran Los Angeles police officer heads the Community Safety Partnership program in the neighborhood of Watts, once scarred by race riots and subsequent gang violence.

Shetty is the global emergency health coordinator for International Medical Corps, a partner in the U.S.-backed effort to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. After prison, he became a construction engineer and has worked to improve relations among law enforcement, community activists, parents and the children of local housing projects. –Tiairris Woodward, of Warren, Michigan.

Woodward started a second job working on Chrysler’s assembly line in 2010 to help support herself and three children, including one with special needs.

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