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State of the Union: It's the economy, again

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Standing before a nation clamoring for jobs, President Barack Obama will call for targeted spending to boost the economy but also for budget cutting in Tuesday night's State of the Union address, his first in a new era of divided political power.

To a television audience in the tens of millions, Obama will home in on jobs, the issue of most importance to the public and to his hopes for a second term. Though war and other concerns bid for attention, the president has chosen to lean heavily on the economy, with far less emphasis on Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism and foreign affairs.

Specifically, Obama will focus on improving the education, innovation and infrastructure of the United States as the way to provide a sounder economic base. He will pair that with calls to reduce the government's debt – now topping a staggering $14 trillion – and reforming government. Those five areas will frame the speech, with sprinklings of fresh proposals.

Yet no matter how ambitious Obama's rhetorical reach, his speech at the halfway point of his term will be viewed in the context of his new political reality.

The midterm elections gave Republicans control of the House and a stronger minority vote in the Senate, meaning he hasn't the option of pushing through changes over strong GOP objections. The contrast between the two parties' visions remains stark, and the debate about where to slash spending, and by how much, will drive much of the debate for the rest of 2011.

As if to underscore that point, Obama's speech will come just hours after the House is to vote on setting spending for the rest of the year at 2008, pre-recession levels. That resolution, largely symbolic, would put Republican lawmakers on record in favor of cutting $100 billion from Obama's budget for the current year as the party promised in last year's campaign.

The atmospherics of the State of the Union, always watched with some fascination as a display of political theater, are expected to be more sober and civil than in recent years.

The speech comes less than three weeks after an assassination attempt against Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz. She is recovering remarkably after being shot in the head during a one-man rampage that left six dead. Among those who will sit with first lady Michelle Obama at the president's speech will be the family of a 9-year-old girl who was killed, an aide to Giffords who rushed to help her at the shooting, and trauma surgeons who have treated the wounded lawmaker.

In an attempt at unity following an attack on one of their own, some Democratic and Republican lawmakers will sit together at Obama's speech. Others have dismissed that idea as superficial. The focus on tone comes a year after Obama's rebuke of a Supreme Court decision in his State of the Union speech led Justice Samuel Alito to mouth back, "Not true."
Obama is trying to emphasize economic priorities that can draw both public appeal and enough Republican consideration for at least serious debate.

He will wrap them all under the heading of helping the United States to compete more successfully in the world – a "win the future" rallying cry that Obama's aides hopes will resonate with both workers and business executives and bind the political parties. In fact, the theme of competitiveness has been pushed by many presidents, including Obama.

In this same setting one year ago, he declared: "China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations aren't playing for second place." Obama has spoken consistently about a need for a new direction in America, an agenda of investing in energy, education, research and public works. Republicans say when Obama speaks of investments, he means spending.

Republicans have chosen Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, an emerging voice for the party on behalf of spending cuts, to deliver the televised response to Obama's address. He is planning to promote budget cuts as essential to responsible governing, even choosing to give his comments from the hearing room of the House Budget Committee, which he now chairs.

The president's aides say he will talk about cutting spending, too, although the details are less clear. In the background are the politically explosive recommendations of his bipartisan commission about how to trim the debt. On Social Security alone, ideas include raising the retirement age at which people could receive benefits, reducing those benefits and lowering cost-of-living increases.

In his speech, Obama is expected to mention tax reform, another recommendation from the commission.
But the White House says Obama will not dive deeply into policy or offer a rundown of ideas reading like a laundry list. His goal is for those watching to emerge with more confidence about the economy of the country and more clarity about his vision for it.

It will be a sales job to a skeptical crowd.

In a new Associated Press-GfK poll, more than half of those surveyed disapproved of how Obama has handled the economy, and just 35 percent said it has improved on his watch. Still, the poll revealed a sense of perspective. Three-quarters of those questioned said it is unrealistic to expect noticeable improvements after two years, the length of Obama's tenure. The recession that began before Obama took office erased 7.3 million jobs. On the rebound, the economy produced 1.1 million jobs last year, and economists think that figure will roughly double this year. Yet unemployment, now at 9.4 percent, is likely to stay high. Economists predict the jobless rate is likely to be just under 9 percent by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, Obama was down to fine-tuning the language of his speech. His radio address over the weekend showed where he was headed

"We're living in a new and challenging time, in which technology has made competition easier and fiercer than ever before. Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible," the president said. "But that shouldn't discourage us. Because I know we can win that competition."

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zcock
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zcock 01/25/11 - 10:54 am
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The State of the Union!....

The State of the Union!.... We need a new president & Senate.

Chillen
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Chillen 01/25/11 - 03:07 pm
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I for one do not plan to

I for one do not plan to watch this State of the Union trickery. He claims he's going to freeze spending - ha! Freeze the bloated over the top spending he's already got it place. A lot of good that will do.

Professor Chaos
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Professor Chaos 01/25/11 - 03:26 pm
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If it wasn't for progressives

If it wasn't for progressives breaking through the wall of conservative corporatism, theocracy and plutocracy from time to time, America would still be a British colony, America would still have slaves, women would not be allowed to vote, there would be no weekends, pensions, or 40 hour workweeks, there would be no consumer protections or product safety, children would be forced to work in factories for 80 hours a week on machinery that tears their limbs off, your food or water could be contaminated by toxins and pathogens and you'd never know it till you were severely ill and then there would be no health system to save you from death, all the national parks would be strip-mined, clear-cut and paved over, everything that was a limited resource would have been depleted to exhaustion, we would never have gone to the moon, or enjoyed any of the massive technological benefits of the sciences that came from pushing into new frontiers. The futures of those not born into wealth would be bleak and suffering with no hope for a better life, and the government would oppose the teaching of evolution by natural selection so those poor people never got the idea that they could find a better way and compete against the people who do everything in their power to hold them down.

But in spite of all those things existing in America and their preservation fought for with all the vigor conservatives could muster, freedom, justice, and progress prevailed.

Professor Chaos
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Professor Chaos 01/25/11 - 03:28 pm
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Republicans filibustered and

Republicans filibustered and stalled to the maximum possibility nearly every single piece of legislation passed by the Democrats to help the nation. The Democratic House passed literally hundreds of bills to address the myriad of problems faced by 300+ million people, and the Republicans blocked all but a few that Democrats were willing to make massive concessions to corporatists and the ultra-wealthy. This nation is digging its way out of a Republican mess that the Republicans own as much as they do the Great Depression...

Chillen
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Chillen 01/25/11 - 04:35 pm
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Professor - You call

Professor - You call legislation that is anti-constitutional and so expensive that China has to pay for it "Helping America"?! Seriously?!!

The Republicans were trying to stop the radical transformation of America into Amerika. That's it. I'm glad they did it and I'm sooooooo glad that the American people rejected the liberals in November. They are now scurrying around like ants who've been stepped on and had their procession broken. It is hilarious.

We are digging out of years of over spending by BOTH parties, but in particular, the democrat party. They are the champions and get the gold medal. Republicans get silver, China gets bronze (for enabling them) and the American taxpayers get a rock - forced to pay for all that crap.

Professor Chaos
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Professor Chaos 01/25/11 - 04:54 pm
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Chillen, just one example of

Chillen, just one example of how corporatist bass ackwards Republicans sabotage American progress and continue to do so: Way back in 1979, Jimmy Carter (I know, the socialist communist fascist socialist in chief) created the solar bank - a project to generate 20% of US energy from solar power by 2000, the Department of Energy, to innovate our way free from oil, and coupled with conservation initiatives (as we literally wasted more oil through inefficiency than we imported at the time) would forever eliminate our need for Middle East oil (we had just suffered through 2 Arab oil embargos that quadrupled the price of oil and sent shocks through the US economy - and Carter was determined to eliminate Middle Eastern influence over our nation's security using the "oil weapon").

Reagan campaigned on Carter's attempt to secure our energy production as being pessimistic since as Americans we should be able to be bass ackwards and consume all the resources we want, and he vowed to eliminate the Department of Energy. After he got elected, Reagan's first act in office was to eliminate Carter's alternative energy programs, and when he couldn't stop the funding to the Department of Energy, he diverted it all from alternative energy development to nuclear warhead production for our already 40,000+ warhead stockpile. He also started selling missiles and weapons to the mullahs in Iran, after his campaign manager (who Reagan put in charge of the CIA) arranged for the Iranians to hold the American hostages past the 1980 election to hurt Carter politically - it was called the original "October Surprise". Carter's fuel efficiency standards had cut Persian Gulf oil imports by 87%, and Reagan slashed the CAFE standards to bolster profits for his oil cronies, doubling our Persian Gulf imports within a year.

Big oil and big coal knew that Carter's ideology and the technological innovations in alternative energy they would lead to were dangerous to their established old-technology industries, so they unleashed a massive campaign of character assassination that goes on till this day. Yes, Carter was "the worst president ever" - for big oil and big coal - and their multi-billion dollar thinktank armada will make sure everyone possible believes that what's good for big oil and big coal is good for you and your family. So much so that any politician who tries to push new technologies is attacked as anti-business, big-government communist (now socialist) and trying to do things that can't be done.

Carter's future-technology thinking, while great for the long term future of the nation, is still dangerous to their older-technology profits - and they still fight it with every fiber of their being. That's exactly why Exxon funds over 40 different fake-science organizations to throw sand in the face of climate research and convince us that CURRENTLY AVAILABLE alternative energy technology is somehow not a possible replacement for oil or coal for decades - if ever.

And who do you think is behind the Tea Party "movement" - Dick Army's right wing PR organization FreedomWorks, the "Drill baby Drill" group DontGo, formed to increase offshore oil drilling now, and the right wing free-market anti-regulation pro-oil group Americans for Prosperity, financed by the oil billionaire David Koch (co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society). It's not tea they want to spill any more. It's also why big oil and big coal have invested so massively in corrupting our government to the point that Bush Jr. was walking around holding hands and literally kissing the same Saudi oil billionaires who funnel American money to Wahhabi sects and al Qaeda terrorists AFTER 9/11 - rather than trying to just put them out of business; and why Republican Senators were literally apologizing to BP executives for the government insisting they pay not even one tenth of the clean-up cost of their epic disaster.

Let's hope Obama has more luck against the crushing wall of corporatism, plutarchy and their multi-billion dollar thinktanks than Carter did. If only we had been using technology for the past 30 lost years to innovate our way out of our dependence on dirty and obsolete centuries old fuel sources, today we would be an entirely different nation with massive strategic advantages over the world, with near unlimited super-inexpensive energy from already built infrastructure, a massively reduced trade deficit, trillions less in debt, a trillion dollar clean energy export industry, little to no cash flow to the Middle East, and we likely would have avoided both Iraq wars, 9/11, and the political need to now drill sludge off our once pristine coasts.

dani
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dani 01/25/11 - 05:27 pm
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I don't know who the above is

I don't know who the above is and didn't bother to read his comment, but did glimpse the first sentence of last paragraph. Evidently he or she doesn't know that Obama is very much a part of corporations. Who does he think got the big bucks from the stimulus and look at the names he just added to his advisory board.

onlysane1left
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onlysane1left 01/25/11 - 06:03 pm
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Interesting points to digest

Interesting points to digest there Chaos.

So, tell me, oh great conservatives and Republicans, why is it that none of you trust the government to your health, but you will back a fellow Repub's motion to put in place a government run investment project that allow people under 55 to invest there Social Security into? From my seat, they are the most sounds financial bunch on the vine, so how are they going to help out those young people's money for when they are going to retire?

Professor Chaos
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Professor Chaos 01/25/11 - 08:15 pm
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The fact the you refuse to

The fact the you refuse to read maybe two sentences of my response instead of reading the whole thing shows you're afraid of any point of view that might make you think about yours Dani...

At least I read opposing view points before I open my mouth instead of saying "You don't agree with me therefore I only read two sentences of what you said but I know you're wrong anyways"

Chillen
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Chillen 01/25/11 - 08:20 pm
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Professor, wow, I couldnt'

Professor, wow, I couldnt' even slog through that post it was so long. Sorry.

onlysane1, I have no clue what you are talking about but I can tell you that any govt run investment plan is not for me. They will just take my money and redistribute it to someone else. I would never support that. I'm shaking in my shoes right now worried that they are eyeballing our 401K programs - you do know other countries have been doing that to access money?

Chillen
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Chillen 01/25/11 - 08:27 pm
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dani, you are so right.

dani, you are so right. Liberals are totally unaware that THEIR party is as much in bed with big corporations as the conservatives are. One only has to look at donor lists to see.

Look at who obama just appointed as his economic recovery guru. Big Corporation GE executive who managed to lose 30,000 jobs here in the U.S. and gain 25,000 overseas in the last few years! His company is only surviving because of govt contracts, regulations that govt has imposed forcing people to buy GE "green" products and from federal bailouts. They guy is clueless as to what is happening in real America. he represents all that is BIG CORPORATE BUSINESS!! And obama picked him.

Chillen
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Chillen 01/25/11 - 08:29 pm
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Libertarians folks, it's the

Libertarians folks, it's the only way we will survive. Somehow we need to come together and leave the Republicans & Democrates behind - they deserve it. They've screwed us all!

Southern_Patriot
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Southern_Patriot 01/25/11 - 08:49 pm
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SOTU is in bad shape with the

SOTU is in bad shape with the piece of %$*)^%( in the WH

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 01/25/11 - 08:59 pm
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CABoatright
188
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CABoatright 01/26/11 - 08:30 am
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The state of the union sure
Unpublished

The state of the union sure is about the economy...things are really looking UP people!! Yeah, right....the State of GA has their sticky little fingers in our checking accounts & are now debiting our tax refunds...state of the union sure is about the economy.

Dan at The Scott Daily Post
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Dan at The Scott Daily Post 01/26/11 - 11:21 am
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I watched the state of the

I watched the state of the union and was interested in one of his promises that any bill with an earmark will be vetoed. I for one expect this promise to be broken very quickly. I even noticed some congressmen smirking when he said that.

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