WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – President Barack Obama continued to put the finishing touches on his State of the Union address Tuesday just hours before he’s scheduled to deliver what Real Clear Politics said would be a speech where Obama would “throw down the gauntlet to Congress.”
The State of the Union address is mandated by the U.S. Constitution in Article 2, Section 3. It is essentially policy recommendations made to Congress, but quickly became grand political theater in Washington.
Typically, State of the Union addresses are not very exciting or memorable, but there have been exceptions to that rule. President George W. Bush used the SOTU to declare the “axis of evil,” while President Bill Clinton said in 1996, “the era of big government is over.”
President Richard Nixon also tried to push Watergate off the agenda in 1974 when he said, “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough.”
President Obama once again will make his SOTU address before a deeply divided Congress. The Republican-led House has had at least one member in the past few years actually yell at the president that he was lying during speeches before Congress.
For Obama, the SOTU will be the first major speech of his second and final term in office. A White House official said the president will focus on asking Congress to pass laws that are widely popular and could help the middle class finally recover from the Great Recession.
Obama is expected to focus on infrastructure spending, which has historically had bipartisan support. But, Republicans have opposed this type of spending each time President Obama has pushed for it, despite evidence that it could help the overall economy.
Obama is also widely expected to push for universal background checks for all gun purchases, a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and have a big focus on jobs, which is routinely the number one issue for voters across the country.
The president will be making all of his policy recommendations as Congress barrels towards the sequester, set to be enacted on March 1. The sequester has deep budget cuts for both domestic and military spending.
Republicans in the House have previously stated they are ready for the sequester to set in, but Senate Republicans and Democrats are trying to avert the deep spending cuts during a time of economic uncertainty following the fiscal cliff failure from earlier in the year.
Democrats have proposed an approach consisting of eliminating tax loopholes and avoidance in addition to spending cuts. Republicans have refused to even consider any tax hikes that could result from the closure of tax loopholes.
Overall, during Obama’s administration, Republicans have cut spending by a ratio of roughly $6 to every $1 of increased revenue.
Following the sequestration, which was proposed by the White House and approved on a bipartisan basis by both houses of Congress, will be the expiration of the continuing resolution funding the government.
Republicans are pushing for even deeper spending cuts to avert a government shutdown, but zero new revenue. Democrats are pushing for more revenues and spending cuts to keep the government funded.
Obama is expected to address the growing fiscal divide between the Senate/White House and Congressional Republicans during his SOTU address.