'Middle class economics' to be focus of Obama's State of Union address

GMT 12:18 2015 Tuesday ,20 January

Arab Today, arab today 'Middle class economics' to be focus of Obama's State of Union address

US President Barack Obama
Washington - KUNA

Despite the high tension in many parts of the world, the domestic issues are expected to be the focus of the US President Barack Obama Tuesday night's State of the Union address.
Administration officials have been previewing some of the key proposals in his speech, among them a tax hike for the wealthiest Americans, two years of free community college education for many students, and seven days of paid sick leave for employees, among other initiatives.
"Let me give you the theme of the speech in three words: middle class economics," said Senior Obama Adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, on the NBC program Meet The Press on Sunday.
"He's going to talk about how middle class economics brought us back from the brink and put us to a place where the economy is growing, jobs are growing, the deficit is shrinking and he is going to lay out his plan to deal with wage stagnation and declining economic mobility in ways that we can really help the middle class," he said.
Domestic issues tend to take center stage at the annual event, which is a constitutional obligation for the president.
"The president has put forward a series of investments potentially for the middle class paid for by a simple idea: the wealthy, the largest financial institution and corporations can pay a little more," Pfeiffer added.
Obama is expected to increase the capital gains rate to 28 percent for families who make more than half a million dollars a year, close a tax loophole for trust funds that affects the top 1 percent of earners in the country, and impose a fee on financial institutions with more than USD 50 billion in assets.
The funds generated from these actions would then support the president's free community college initiative, as well as greater tax credits for working families, some expenses of child care, and longer, paid sick leave.
"We're going to push for those things. Some of them are going to be legislative proposals Republicans may not love, but we'll push them on them," Pfeiffer stressed.
On the foreign policy issues, Obama is expected to talk about nuclear negotiations with Iran, the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and US counterterrorism efforts, according to Professor Allan Lichtman, a political expert from American University who briefed the foreign press on the State of the Union address.
"For all the tragic events of terrorism elsewhere in the world, the United States on Barack Obama's watch has been free of any significant terror attack," Lichtman noted.
"And he, of course, is going to talk about the challenges abroad, the strong response to ISIL, the continuing negotiations with Iran, and will, I think, plead with Congress not to impose new sanctions on Iran - to give the negotiations with Iran a chance and not give Iran an excuse to bust up the negotiations and blame the United States." He added that Obama "has to talk ISIL and the campaign against ISIL because he wants a new authorization of force resolution from the Congress." However there likely will not be a mention of the growing tension between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Lichtman said, because the current administration "doesn't have a whole lot to crow about in that area," following the collapse of Secretary of State John Kerry's negotiation effort last year.
"Don't expect something big and earth-shattering" from the speech, Lichtman said. "Obama won't be running in 2016, but he is still going to set the tone for the Democratic campaign." Following the president's remarks on Tuesday, the Republicans have chosen new Iowa Senator Joni Ernst to deliver her party's response via a live video link.

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