Obama set to challenge and persuade
February 11th, 2013
06:28 PM ET
1 year ago

Obama set to challenge and persuade

Washington (CNN) - When President Barack Obama speaks on Capitol Hill Tuesday night he'll have a club in one hand and an olive branch in another, figuratively speaking.

According to Democrats close to the administration, he'll challenge Republicans to get on board with his economic agenda, including his plans for deficit reduction, broad tax reform and new investments.

Watch CNN's comprehensive coverage of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address starting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV and follow online at CNN.com or via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Follow our real-time State of the Union live blog at cnn.com/conversation.

Two sources close to the White House describe the president's approach to Republicans on the economy this way: "If you don't get it done, I will."

Multiple administration officials say he will point to the looming deadline of across the board spending cuts and argue the economy will suffer if Congress doesn't take action. And Democrats close to the White House say he'll make the case for tax reform and economic equality. For example, one source says, he might argue Washington should not protect subsidies for oil companies while kids lose funding for Head Start, or that middle class teachers should not pay more in taxes than hedge fund managers.

But administration officials insist the president will emphasize common ground on other domestic priorities. He'll acknowledge bipartisan progress on immigration reform. On gun laws he'll emphasize a universal desire for improved safety and call for Congressional action. On both fronts, aides say, he won't unveil new policy but use the speech to advocate for the proposals he's already backed. The chamber will be filled with victims of gun violence, driving the message to viewers at home.

The president's aides describe the speech as the policy-complement to the inaugural address, which was a philosophical statement of the president's beliefs. Expect him to address many of the same themes: climate change, gay rights and women's rights. Sources say he will acknowledge the progress that has been made toward expanded equality and address next steps to advance this agenda.

As is customary in his State of the Union addresses, the president will spend less time on foreign policy than on the economy. But multiple sources tell CNN he will discuss the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the war on terror, the U.S. relationship with China and the pivot to Asia. Those close to the administration say he is also likely to announce the start of discussions for a trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union; Europe is the United States' top trading partner.

Sources tell CNN Obama views this speech as his greatest opportunity to make his economic case to the American public for the second term. An average of 43 million Americans has watched his State of the Union addresses.

This will be the last major address in which the president's chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, plays a role. Favreau leaves the White House at the end of the month. His successor, Cody Keenan, has been leading the effort to draft this year's State of the Union.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. TommytheT

    yes that is our POTUS, I will work with you...as long as you do what I demand.

    February 11, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. larrysucks

    Blame, blame, blame. I'll be stunned if he takes any blame himself.

    February 11, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Obama–let me advise you, you need to be much more aggressive with GOP idiots. Good luck. The most horrible congress in my life.

    February 11, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  4. annie

    This is one thing that bothers me about Obama. His "if you don't get it done, I will" approach. How can he continue to go around Congress, go around laws he doesn't agree with? Every President has to work with an opposing view. Just because he doesn't agree with it, doesn't mean he can go it alone.

    February 11, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. Get on with it

    Republicans, wannabe conservatives, so called business savy.
    How is wall street bailout going, must be getting low.
    next feeding emergency coming up.

    February 11, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. Ancient Texan

    We'll hear more pointed, disrespectful and insulting rhetoric against the loyal opposition, then some claim of offering to "compromise" in order to "invest" (throw away money) in our future.

    February 11, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Tim

    Obama. Clueless to the end.

    February 11, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. Carl

    Oh Gee – Obama is going to convince us to spend more by borrowing more from China. If you Lefties are going to go for his "vision" then you are all on crack, and deserve to lose your current (and temporary) status.

    February 11, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  9. Belvarie Varnado

    Yep!! Cajole, threaten and promise.

    February 11, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I think that there needs to be some discussion of what the president will or can do to reduce the cost of Social Security and Medicare among other things. The second thing that needs to be done is calling out the Senate to confirm Hagel so that he can get through the bloat in the DoD budget.

    February 11, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  11. Al

    I guess Obama is going to challenge the working people to live on less take home pay, and agree to surrender more money to the Federal Government so that they can give it away to undeserving people. If only he could be challenged to work with companies so that they would provide more jobs, but that would not be his vision of more government dependency.

    February 11, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  12. Tmanzl1

    When are we going to be done with this entire circus, when can we fire the whole lot of them and get back to work as a country not a party.

    February 11, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  13. obamaliar

    wonder why Obama never discusses his energy policy in North Dakota??? Wonder why Obama doesn't ask North Dakota how their unemployment stays so low?? Is it he is as stupid as they say or embarrassed to find out he is totally wrong?

    February 11, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Woman In California

    I usually watch the SOTU addresses but I probably won't this time, because I just can't stand looking at Boehner's disrespectful face. Although I will admit Rubio will probably do a fairly good job of telling lies and spreading more fear in the minds of the TP klan. Stay tuned.

    Please Mr. President stand firm and remember you were elected and not the other guy or the other party.

    February 11, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  15. Gonzo

    We, the American people, should have a club in one hand, and an olive branch in the other, and tell this man, who has been given a BIG benefit of the doubt a second time, to get his act together. Enough with the communist speeches, and work with Congress and get something done!! Same goes for Congress, both parties!! But, leadership begins in the White House, and it doesn't start with threats!!

    February 11, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |