What to Expect From the State of the Union
Five things to look for in the State of the Union by North by Northwestern Politics, an independent publication at Northwestern University.
Look for a Pivot Back to the Middle Class
Obama said he was surprised by the widespread coverage of his second Inaugural Address as a liberal push, and he intends to scale back his tone in Tuesday’s address. In other words, don't look for more liberal broadsides on LGBT rights and equal pay. Expect a focus on jobs and other economic issues as Obama attempts to refocus on the middle class (whatever that means these days). It would not be surprising if we hear a return to the “middle-out and bottom-up” rhetoric of the campaign trail. Obama is also supposed to speak about wage growth, a topic likely to play well with voters worried about personal finances.
The Speech Will Likely Retread Familiar Ground
The State of the Union is a chance for the President to lay out his legislative agenda for the next year. Thanks to this handy infographic from the Washington Post, we can even guess in what order he’ll tackle issues. Obama will likely start out discussing the economy, move on to education and round things out with some discussions about the deficit and foreign policy. That section on the deficit will probably include some proposals about the sequester, since that is looming in the near future.
Obama to Tie Environment to Economy
Climate change was the centerpiece of Obama’s second inaugural address. While the environment will not be as central here as it was in that speech, expect Obama to tie the economy to the environment. With Obama currently reshuffling his climate team, now is the ideal time for the him to reiterate his commitment to environmental issues while framing the them in a way that appeals to Republicans who often don't support environmental legislation. The nomination of former REI CEO Sally Jewell for Secretary of the Interior is the first step in building a national consensus on environmental issues, and Obama will likely use his platform on Tuesday to push further on the issue.
Foreign Policy Will Not Be Highlighted
After six months of Benghazi, Afghanistan and drone strikes, Obama would like to switch away from foreign policy for a bit. Aware that the recent focus on foreign policy has seemed pointless to many Americans, Obama would like to move away from distant issues like this and focus more on domestic policy. Still, expect to hear some things about foreign policy. With a trip to Israel coming up, Obama will likely focus at least a bit on our special relationship with the Middle East. He will probably touch on nuclear proliferation a bit as well, if Joe Biden’s comments in Munich are any indication.
Republican Responses Will Highlight Rising Stars
Florida Senator and GOP rising star Marco Rubio is going to deliver the official Republican response to the State of the Union address. Praised for his recent leadership on bipartisan immigration reform, Rubio is a solid choice for a GOP who is trying to present a diverse face. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) will present the Tea Party response. Like Rubio, Paul is frequently touted as a rising leader in the party. Their separate TV appearances point to ongoing divisions within the Republican Party, though Paul says his response is simply an addition to Rubio’s.
This article originally appeared in North by Northwestern, a student publication at Northwestern University that receives funding and training as a member of the Campus Progress journalism network.