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Obama's State Of The Union: What To Expect

Knowing the Republican-controlled House is unlikely to hand him a victory on any big-ticket issues, Obama will outline a series of executive actions.
Posted at 12:28 PM, Jan 28, 2014

​If President Obama’s State of The Union address goes anything like last year’s, he’ll again present lawmakers with a lengthy to-do list.  (Via The White House

“Let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living.”

“Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away."

“I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change.”  

“Let’s agree right here, right now to keep the people’s government open, and pay our bills on time.” (Via The White House)

And if history’s any indication, many of his proposals will again fall on deaf ears. This year, knowing the Republican-controlled House is unlikely to hand him a victory on any big-ticket issues, Obama will outline a series of executive actions to work around lawmakers. That includes a minimum wage hike for federal contractors. 

JAY CARNEY: “The president sees this as a year of action to work with Congress where he can, and to bypass Congress where necessary.” (Via ABC

One reason for this — The Washington Post notes — the stakes this year are higher than in the past. “Now without an election ahead, Obama has fewer opportunities to recover — making this State of the Union address as politically consequential as any speech in his tenure." 

2013 was an especially rough year for the president. He was put on the defensive with issues such as the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov and Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. And he was preoccupied by October’s government shutdown and by foreign crises in Syria and Egypt. (Via MSNBC, National Journal, USA Today, Time, Politico)

Meanwhile, his approval ratings fell to record lows. And while those numbers are slowly improving, he's still more unpopular now than he was during any of his previous State of the Union addresses. (Via The White House

CHRIS CILLIZZA: “He comes into the 2014 State of the Union in a much weaker political position than he was a year ago. And the things he’d hoped to capitalize on a year ago haven’t not happened.” (Via BBC

​Which is why observers say you’ll hear fewer grand ideas from the president Tuesday night. Instead, he'll likely focus more on what might actually be achievable.

“Presidential power is something that's fought out every day... But what he can do potentially is begin to lay out some themes, define the 2014 legislative and electoral battle.” (Via CNN

​Still, however slim Obama's chances for second term successes might be, veteran White House reporter Robert Schlesinger makes this observation:

“For that one night, he’ll have the spotlight the way no other person in the country will have all year … That still ain’t nothing.” (Via The New York Times