Obama’s Social Media Team Tries to Widen Audience for State of the Union …

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 goals from Obama’s 2014 State of the Union: Yay or Nay?.

President Obama will lay out an ambitious vision Tuesday for government’s role in American life, from such everyday concerns as how to pay for mortgages, tuition and doctors’ bills to broader issues including the climate and national security. WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has revamped its digital communications strategy in an attempt to reach new audiences for the State of the Union speech — a classic old-media event — and sidestep the skeptical filter often applied by White House reporters. President Obama’s aides have drafted a team of Internet-savvy staff members to produce a series of videos, digital op-eds, Facebook and Twitter posts, and six-second animated GIFs to capture a larger audience than the mainstream media’s shrinking number of viewers and readers. Chapman/Sun-Times Her only son, the 13-year-old Englewood boy who became known to the world after the Chicago Sun-Times ran a story on him that went viral, was headed to the White House and into history. It is meant to give Obama a chance to claim credit for the rebounding economy. “We’ve seen manufacturing come back, we have cut our deficits, gas prices have dropped,” Obama said in a video sent to supporters Monday. “Now that we have fought our way through the crisis, how do we make sure that everybody in this country is sharing in this growing economy?” That implicitly victorious message sets up another question, though, and a debate that will probably flourish for the remainder of Obama’s time in office: Are his policies working, or is it too soon to brag?

Other guests will include a wounded Afghanistan war veteran, a doctor fighting Ebola in Africa, the chief executive of CVS Health, a young immigrant allowed to stay in the country under an order by Mr. In recent announcements on college affordability, immigration and net neutrality, the president has relied on social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Medium, Vine, LinkedIn and Twitter. That’s what his mother has asked herself many times since Dec. 28, when Malik’s poignant letter to Santa — asking only for safety — was answered by the president of the United States.

Apart from some apparent agreement on trade and cybersecurity, we will hear of many billions in new spending and programs that the Republican Congress will not pass. That’s because while he was able to check off most of what he promised to do through executive action in last year’s speech, Obama was unable in the bitterly partisan election year to get Congress to go along with the bigger plans he had for the country that required their approval.

Obama previewed his plan for broadband access in a three-and-a-half-minute video posted on the viral content website Upworthy. “It’s still true that most people still get their news from television and big newspapers,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the president’s communications director. “But if that’s all you’re talking to, you’re missing big parts of the population. Obama’s proposals as the start of a broad discussion with the new Republican Congress over a rewrite of the tax code that includes not just corporate but individual taxation, as GOP lawmakers have wanted. He knows government growth ratchets upward not downward and that Republicans are ultimately unlikely to change his unilateral moves (health law changes, immigration executive actions, Cuba policy re-direction–whatever one thinks of their merits). As Obama prepares to make that annual trek up Pennsylvania Avenue to address Congress once again, here’s a look back a year later at five of the promises he made — and which got fulfilled and denied. “Let’s get immigration reform done this year,” Obama declared to a Congress that had long blocked his efforts.

Ever since Ronald Reagan, presidents have invited guests to sit in the first lady’s box at the Capitol, with an eye to making symbolic points during their speeches. Charles Boustany (R., La.), a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. “If the president were really interested in tax reform, rather than making political statements, he would have approached Congress and members of the Ways and Means committee in thoughtful ways.” Mr. Instead, Obama took executive action to make more than 4 million of those immigrants eligible for protection from deportation and eligible for work permits. Obama’s proposed two years of free community college and enlarged paid work leave would undermine individual and family responsibility while massively empowering the federal political class.

The plan would increase taxes on investments held by high-income households by boosting top capital-gains tax rates and imposing capital-gains tax on many inherited assets. With wages stagnating and many Americans still out of work, he instead spoke of solutions rather than suggesting that the economy had mended completely. Ironically, Obama would deposit his ”14th grade” graduates into a over-regulated nation where hiring has been made riskier and perhaps even a bad decision altogether compared to keeping payrolls down or automating. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba that will also restore full diplomatic relations between the countries for the first time in more than half a century. Their journey started in early December, when Malik was among 8,500 Chicago Public Schools students who wrote to DirectEffect’s Letters to Santa program.

His and other letters from students at 12 schools this year were distributed to big-hearted folks across the city and suburbs who annually fulfill students’ wishes. For years, Obama has been asking Congress to encourage more Americans to grow a retirement nest egg by allowing all workers to be automatically enrolled in IRAs unless they specifically opt out. Kelly, an astronaut since 1996 who has spent a total of more than 180 days at the space station, will head back up in March, this time to stay for a year, the first American astronaut to do so. Obama, Republican congressional leaders, as well as some potential GOP 2016 presidential candidates, have said they want to more directly address the economic anxiety that persists despite a growing economy and falling jobless rate. Scientists will compare his medical status over that year with that of his twin brother, Mark Kelly, another astronaut, who will remain on the ground.

So far, most of the attention among Republicans has been on lifting incomes of working families by boosting economic growth, though some in the GOP are proposing federal programs and tax plans. The Treasury Department has set up a new security as the basis for the investment and for the past month has been running a pilot program with a small group of employers, with plans to expand the program by the end of 2015. DiGiacomo decided the president needed to see the poignant letter from a kid in this impoverished, high-crime neighborhood in the president’s hometown. While most of Obama’s proposals last year were positions he had long advocated, one of the few new proposals he offered was extension of the earned-income tax credit, which helps boost the wages of low-income families through tax refunds.

And when the president points to his rescue of the auto industry and gains in manufacturing, the Alliance for American Manufacturing warns of going too far too soon. “It is indeed the strongest period of manufacturing job growth since the early 1990s,” said the group’s president, Scott Gold. “But the administration fails to mention that we’ve only recovered one-third of the good-paying manufacturing jobs that were destroyed in the recession. Obama wanted it broadened to provide more help to workers without children, a view embraced by some Republicans and conservative economists. “Let’s work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, and help more Americans get ahead,” Obama said optimistically — too optimistically, it turned out. We still have a long way to go.” Although Obama’s statistics show a recovery is underway, said Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he deserves the credit. “Certainly, the stimulus prevented the unemployment rate from going higher than it would have,” Strain said. “But that’s very different from arguing what it would have looked like under better policies.” If Obama hadn’t burned so much political capital on passing his landmark healthcare law, Strain said, he might have been able to do more when it became clear the stimulus was insufficient. “Both parties didn’t pay nearly enough attention to unemployment and jobs, so I don’t want to suggest that Republicans were great,” he said. “But we have a system built on the concept of presidential leadership, so more of the blame goes to him.” In their previews of the policies to come, White House aides have talked about eliminating tax loopholes that benefit wealthy individuals and big corporations and using the savings to invest in such areas as child care and assistance for college costs.

Two days after Christmas, Malik received Obama’s letter, saying, “Please know your security is a priority for me … and I will be rooting for you.” The Sun-Times story was picked up by news entities around the country and around the world — as far away as the Netherlands, Paris and Vietnam. Obama said the goal of his energy policy is to create jobs and a cleaner planet and announced that he wanted to set higher fuel economy standards for trucks. Greenstein says he sees the country moving out of a period of total focus on economic trouble to one in which Washington contemplates how to heal systemic problems. “It’s very useful and bold — and took some guts — to put that proposal on the table,” Greenstein said. Malik’s been a bit of a celebrity at school, and just last Monday, DirectEffect arranged for him and his family to attend the Chicago Bulls game against the Orlando Magic.

The president will use his guests to highlight a push for better policing after last year’s tumult in Ferguson, Mo., following a white police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed young black man. Obama is seeking only about half of the minimum of $1 trillion in tax increases some in his party want. “By seeking to address economic inefficiencies, including in our capital gains structure, and targeting these revenues toward investment in education and support for working parents, the president’s proposals would address the key issue of wage stagnation for most families,” said Rep. The process for making the change is underway within the administration, with a new regulation planned to be proposed in March 2015 and finalized in March 2016. In his first extended remarks after becoming Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the first priority of a new GOP-led Congress would be pursuing “common-sense jobs ideas.” Asked which way the country should head, 35% said the U.S. should follow Obama’s lead, and 34% said it should follow the lead of the GOP in Congress. Indeed, just as Obama’s SoTU is his attempt to set up GOP pins for a 2016 “war on the middle-class” bowling lane, Republicans have their own parallel opportunity to “embarrass” Obama given his expressed intentions to veto job-oriented legislation.

On Saturday, as DiGiacomo took his mother shopping to purchase for her a black, two-piece skirt suit, Malik also was shopping with his father, who bought a blue, two-piece suit for him. And as they prepared for their trip, they weren’t sure if they were more nervous about meeting the president; about Malik joining the first lady in her private box (his mother will sit in a different section); or about the airplane flight. There’s an odd bipartisan consensus that, while incompetent to make paper clips, the federal government should nonetheless spearhead things like “basic” research, cybersecurity policy, education funding, green and renewable energy, infrastructure and education funding. Tingirides of the Los Angeles Police Department, who leads a program that has helped Watts fight crime and promote better relations between officers and the community.

The results have caught the attention of the president’s most senior advisers, who are increasingly turning to the digital team for guidance on how technology can help Mr. But if Republicans think government can do these complex things, then why can’t it steer K-12/community college education, retirement and health care?

One guest, Prophet Walker, who served a six-year sentence for robbery, helped found a program to help inmates get an education to avoid the revolving door of prison. Obama better connect with the public, officials said. “Not only have the digital tools become more important in communications generally, but the people in the building want it more and are asking for it,” said Kori Schulman, the director of online engagement.

Obama’s annual address to the nation Tuesday night appears designed to cement a legacy as an economic populist and provide a road map for Democratic candidates looking to rouse middle-class support in the 2016 elections. “If Republicans, who now speak of poverty and income inequality with some regularity, want to defend a tax loophole of trust funds for the wealthiest of Americans, then we look forward to hearing that argument,” a senior administration official said, referring to the proposal to tax additional inherited assets. “We’re going to make the counter on Tuesday night. Another guest, Anthony Mendez, who grew up in the South Bronx in a family that was homeless for a time and whose best friend was murdered, managed to finish high school and attend to college. We are calling it middle-class economics.” Republicans already are irked by the president’s threats to veto two of the first pieces of legislation the new GOP-controlled Congress is considering: approving the Keystone XL pipeline and altering the Affordable Care Act. Relatedly, Obama will tout government owned broadband networks, when a core function of government leadership is to prevent government competition with the private sector.

Reporters traveling that day with the president peppered Josh Earnest, the press secretary, with questions about what they expected to be an official announcement in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 9. Even in the worst instance, you wouldn’t replace private monopoly with a protected government one; you’d instead address the monopoly franchise grant, certificates of convenience and necessity, broader right-of-way reform, and other policies.

He had recorded it on Air Force One a day earlier, and it quickly became the most viewed video the Obama White House has ever produced, officials said. Pfeiffer said he was not yet ready to give up on the traditional news media, which still reaches many millions of people. “We also have to be in The New York Times and the evening news,” he said. “Our view is not an either-or strategy. Pfeiffer, who recently wrote two articles for the blogging platform Medium, said he sensed that a tipping point had already been reached where digital tools were no longer optional but necessary. Obama in his new proposal focuses on individual taxes, as opposed to the corporate tax code, at a time when broader consensus exists on the problems and solutions for the latter. Still, many Republicans have been wary of pursuing a business-only tax rewrite, in part because it could leave them vulnerable to charges that they are catering to corporations and the wealthy.

In addition, he would triple the size of an existing child-care tax credit to $3,000 a year and broaden its availability to cover more middle-income people. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), the Senate Finance Committee’s new chairman, is expected to again call on the administration to propose a comprehensive tax plan, including what to do about small-business owners’ taxes. “If you reduce the corporate rate, what do you do with all the people who are getting gouged” by current individual rates?

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