State of the Union 2014: Obama to take ‘optimistic’ message on the road
By: Carrie Budoff Brown
January 25, 2014 12:00 PM EST
President Barack Obama will deliver an “optimistic” State of the Union address Tuesday prodding Congress to address economic mobility and income inequality — or risk an end-run by the White House.
In an email to supporters Saturday, senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote that Obama “will lay out a set of real, concrete, practical proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it.”
Obama will then take his message on the road Wednesday for a two-day trip through Prince George’s County in Maryland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Nashville. When he returns to the White House, Obama will outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, Pfeiffer wrote.
“In this year of action, the president will seek out as many opportunities as possible to work with Congress in a bipartisan way,” Pfeiffer wrote. “But when American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, he will not wait for Congress.
“President Obama has a pen and he has a phone, and he will use them to take executive action and enlist every American — business owners and workers, mayors and state legislators, young people, veterans, and folks in communities from across the country — in the project to restore opportunity for all,” he said. “It will be an optimistic speech. Thanks to the grit and determination of citizens like you, America has a hard-earned right to that optimism.”
The election-year agenda is expected to be a mix of initiatives designed to energize the Democratic base of women, students and blue-collar workers, and to attract independent voters. The aim is to highlight differences with the GOP and provide fodder for Democrats along the campaign trail — even though those measures stand little chance of winning approval in Congress.
In private meetings across Capitol Hill, senior administration aides have been talking about reviving proposals from the president’s American Jobs Act, which was used by Democrats repeatedly in the run-up to the 2012 elections. Specifically, they have discussed manufacturing issues, college affordability measures, such as the refinancing of student loans, and a host of women’s issues, including proposals they dub as “paycheck fairness” and more liberal workplace-leave policies.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) previewed the Republican Party’s response in the GOP weekly address.
“When he delivers his State of the Union address this week, the president has a lot of explaining to do,” Blunt said. “If all he has to offer is more of the same, or if he refuses to acknowledge that his own policies have failed to work — the president is simply doing what many failed leaders have done before him: trying to set one group of Americans against another group of Americans.”