When President Barack Obama delivers his fourth State of the Union address this Tuesday, I gamely predict we will see more of the pugilistic, right-back-atcha Obama 2.0 who showed up at the president’s November press conference.
He’ll likely lay out the case for forestalling the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, that are due to take effect in a couple of weeks, and illustrate the Republicans’ obstructionist approach to the problem. (House Speaker John Boehner is already trying to rename the sequester — a form of ransom paid to Republicans in 2011 in order to keep them from causing the United States of America from defaulting on its debt — “the Obamaquester”.)
As the Speaker last month told the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore, who is also a frequent and handsomely paid speaker at events sponsored by David Koch’s Americans For Prosperity Foundation, he believes that the president made a serious miscalculation when he offered the sequester deal on the assumption that Republicans would never let it go into effect because of the sequester’s potentially decimating impact on defense spending. From Moore’s January 7 interview with the speaker:
Mr. Boehner says he has significant Republican support, including GOP defense hawks, on his side for letting the sequester do its work. “I got that in my back pocket,” the speaker says. He is counting on the president’s liberal base putting pressure on him when cherished domestic programs face the sequester’s sharp knife. Republican willingness to support the sequester, Mr. Boehner says, is “as much leverage as we’re going to get.”
That leverage, he reasons, is what will force Democrats to the table on entitlements. “Think of it this way. We already have an agreement [capping] discretionary spending for 10 years. And we’re already in our second year of it. This whole discussion on the budget over the next several months is going to be about these entitlements.”
So, basically what you’re hearing is that, in order to put a dent in benefits due everybody who has paid into Social Security over the course of their worklife, the Republicans are willing to but the security of the nation at risk.
For those of you who love metrics that are about things other than the destruction of the middle class, The Fix at the Washington Post has a bunch of pretty kewl infographics that examine the frequency of key word usage in both President George W. Bush’s SOTUs and first address to a joint session of Congress, and the same for Obama’s, as well as graphs on themes that examine the percentage of the speeches devoted to each one, as well as the number of minutes.
Along with cases presented against the sequester in particular and Republican obstructionism in general, we’re likely to hear a lot about gun control and immigration reform.
The First Lady today attended the funeral service of Hadiya Pendelton, the Chicago teenager who had performed with her high school majorette team in the parade that followed President Obama’s second inauguration on January 21, only to be gunned down in a public park a week after her return to Chicago. I’ll be surprised if this horrible murder isn’t mentioned, along with the Newtown school massacre.
There’s a lot of talk, of course, about the Republican response to the president’s speech, which will be delivered by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the GOP point-person on immigration reform, and regarded as a contender for the 2016 presidential nomination. (Writing at Ten Miles Square, Jonathan Bernstein says that Rubio “is nuts” to take on the task.)
Having been tapped to deliver the response has apparently transformed Rubio, once something of a Tea Party darling, into one of those dreaded establishment Republicans, because a separate Tea Party response was also deemed necessary, at least by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who will deliver it. As Brother Kilgore notes, this is something of a phony distinction, seeing as how, on domestic issues at least, “you’ll need a crowbar to pry them apart.”
Offering perfection in your SOTU viewing experience, Fox News, late of a certain limited wing-nut purge, will unveil an ongoing online poll, engineered by Microsoft’s Bing, based on social media aggregation and other sexy thangs, creating what Politico dubs “the [potentially] largest dial-test focus group in American history.”
As for me, I’ll be watching from the SiriusXM studios in Washington, D.C., doing some pre-game schmoozing on “Make It Plain,” hosted by the mind-bending Mark Thompson, then breaking it down as part of the panel on SiriusXM’s “The Agenda With Ari Rabin-Havt,” SiriusXM channel 127. Tune in!