Obama’s State of the Union address will face chilly GOP reception

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday at the White House. | Carolyn Kaster/AP WASHINGTON — Heading into his sixth State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama said he is a “little more relaxed” and by now “more better at it.” Those Obama reflections came in one of a string of White House-produced videos released over the past several days intended to drum up interest in his speech before a joint session of Congress at 8 p.m.WASHINGTON: Republican lawmakers are already signalling they will try to block President Barack Obama’s pitch for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. One of those videos featured the reunited cast of the “The West Wing” in a very clever bit of fast-paced schtick reminiscent of the show, broadcast between 1999 and 2006.

It sets up yet another clash between Obama and Republicans, who are already sparring over an oil pipeline to Canada’s tar sands, Obama’s executive actions on immigration and his health care law, among other issues. 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 has recited the positive economic statistics so often that he undoubtedly can do it in his sleep: 11 million private-sector jobs created over 58 straight months, the longest stretch of job growth in U.S. history. 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. As Obama continues to signal what he will propose during his annual agenda-setting speech to Congress, senior administration officials said during the weekend that he will call for raising the capital gains rate on top income earners and eliminating a tax break on inheritances.

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. Given the opposition among Republicans to piling financial burdens on wealthy Americans to pay for benefits for the lower and middle classes, it will struggle to go beyond an item on his policy wish-list.

Obama has to grapple with Republicans newly in charge of the Senate — the House chamber has been under GOP control — and two years of potentially grinding battles with Congress as he works to solidify his legacy. “Our job now is to make sure that every American feels that they’re a part of our country’s comeback. And so he did, although it was not the broad plan he envisioned that would have allowed a path to citizenship for more than 11 million immigrants illegally in the United States. Partisan scrapheap Republicans, in control of Congress for the first time in eight years since the midterm elections in November, have rubbished Mr Obama’s plan before he has personally presented it.

They are loathe to increase taxes, so Obama’s tax proposals will probably be dismissed, if not outright ignored, by lawmakers outside the Democratic Party’s liberal base. Instead, Obama took executive action to make more than 4 million of those immigrants eligible for protection from deportation and eligible for work permits.

And I’ll call on this new Congress to join me in putting aside the political games and finding areas where we agree so we can deliver for the American people,” Obama said. Key Republicans in both chambers indicated they would oppose the plan “Slapping American small businesses, savers and investors with more tax hikes only negates the benefits of the tax policies that have been successful in helping to expand the economy, promote savings and create jobs,” Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a weekend statement. The president has proposed tax increases of $320 billion (€275 million) over the next decade by increasing the investment tax rate and closing a loophole that allows individuals to pass on inherited assets tax-free. But each year since then, a sluggish recovery had the president acknowledging that there was “more work to do.” Now, from the resurgent auto industry (a bailout begun under President George W. 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.

His 83%-16% rating among Democrats is healthy but he has much work to do among independents: only 34% give him a positive rating vs. 57% who disapprove. That idea is the latest action from a president with nothing to lose from floating his progressive goals, now that he has been freed from the campaign restraints following the Democratic losses in November. Obama is taking full credit, after presiding over a weak economic recovery for nearly three-fourths of his presidency. “There is good news — the economy is finally coming back, and that’s exactly what he’s trumpeting,” said Charles Lipson, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. “It’s the one area where he can claim plausibly bipartisan agreement, with both sides of the aisle clapping.” Troubling fiscal trends remain, including a soaring national debt and stagnant wages. I think we should have a debate in this country between middle-class economics and trickle-down economics and see if we can come to an agreement on the things we do agree on.”

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. Obama intends to use the improving economy as leverage to call on Congress to approve a wide range of new federal programs that would cost more than $230 billion, from universal government-paid tuition for community-college students to expanded tax breaks for the middle class. They include a community college student, a construction worker, a working mother of two pre-school children, small business owners and an immigrant who was brought illegally to the US as a child. 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. He is strong in union households (61%-34%) but is down among NASCAR Fans (48%-47%), voters with passports (48%-49%), the Investor Class (47%-52%), and Weekly Wal-Mart Shoppers (46%-51%).

And for visitors who prefer to watch the speech on their TV, there will be a “second screen” mode that disables the video stream but still presents the river of interactive content related to the president’s comments. 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 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.

He is also down among voters in homes where there is an active duty military or veteran (48%-49%) and LGBT voters (59%-39%) – as well as among the Creative Class (53%-46%). 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 often seen chewing nicotine gum. The Obama administration has embraced the web — and sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr — as a way to bring its message directly to Americans. 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.

A 45% approval rating is borderline acceptable, however, no matter which way you look at it, the President is doing much better than Congress which receives only a 20% approval and a 74% disapproval. 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. Obama’s tax-hike plan is dead on arrival, a development that will come as no surprise to the president and his advisers, who’ve been watching the GOP reject tax increases for years. 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.

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. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., has been focusing on combating human trafficking, and his guest is Laila Mickelwait of Exodus Cry, a Missouri organization battling sex trafficking.

Kelsey said. “The Republicans clobbered him, and the first thing he did was hand them a live hand grenade [deportation amnesty] with the pin pulled, and said, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ And he found out they weren’t going to do anything about it, or they couldn’t figure out what to do about it. 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. 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. 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.

Denuclearization talks with Iran are making little progress, the threat of terrorist attacks spawned in Syria and elsewhere is multiplying, a trade deal with Pacific rim nations is still incomplete and Russia is still agitating in Ukraine. “On Islamic terrorism, the utter failure of his policies in Syria, the total failure of the Russian re-set and greater danger there in the region, and what looks to be a very weak negotiating posture with Iran that is already getting pushback from Congress, I think that he would like to keep the focus on his strong points and not his numerous weak points,” Mr. Fugate wrote to Obama to share how he went from being an unemployed new father to getting his degree and helping low-income patients obtain medical care. Hammer is a sea-level researcher who studies how cities and other areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change also have large Hispanic populations. Last year, she obtained coverage under the law and had surgery to remove a potentially fatal brain tumor that was diagnosed in May 2013, when she had no health insurance. Pham is a government computer scientist who works to improve health information technology, expand access to benefits for veterans and improve the way government provides services to families like hers.

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, Walker became a construction engineer and has worked to improve relations among law enforcement, community activists, parents and the children of local housing projects. 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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