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Raw Politics: State of the Union, campaign-year edition
January 24th, 2012
07:30 PM ET

Raw Politics: State of the Union, campaign-year edition

Tonight at 9 p.m. ET, Congress - just back from its Christmas break (yes, really) - will get an update on the state of our union. There is really only one answer to this question, the same way there’s only one answer when your great-aunt asks how you’re doing. It does not matter if you’ve just been dumped; if your dog has a bizarre and untreatable personality disorder; if your car still uses a tape deck, and the cassette permanently lodged in that tape deck is late-career Rick Astley. The answer to that question is always, always “fine.” And every year, no matter what, the President of the United States reports to Congress that the state of our union is “strong.”

The speech is, at heart, just a guide to what policies the White House wants to project as its priorities. Will President Obama see any of the proposals he’ll share tonight actually become law? If you’ve been watching any CNN at all, you know the answer to that question too: Probably not. And if they do, it won’t be be this Congress that passes them. Lawmakers have been publicly speculating that partisan gridlock may make this year’s session even more unproductive than last year’s, which was already the least productive of the post-World War II era. In other words: the most spectacular achievement we can probably expect out of Capitol Hill this year is a blazingly unprecedented new standard in unachievement.

So why do we care? Is it still worth tuning in tonight? Yes, it is.

For one thing: if you’re interested in this year’s White House race, it’s safe to consider this President Obama’s first big campaign address of 2012. What we’re likely to hear from him in the coming days, as he plugs his new agenda at stops in battlegrounds like Nevada and Colorado, will be previewed here tonight. We'll hear a more critical look at the same laundry list on the trail and on the debate stage this Thursday from the Republicans who'd like to replace him. And if he does win reelection, what we hear tonight is likely to provide the outlines of the agenda to expect from a second term.

Here at 360, our State of the Union coverage starts at 8 p.m. ET and runs through midnight ET. As a preview, here are some of the advance excerpts released by the White House this evening:

“Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded. “

“….The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.”

“As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.

No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.”

“Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.”

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. edward pitcher

    The division in this country is like the glass of water that is half full. Obama and most democrats recognizes that the glass is half full and attempt to fill it to the brim. The republicans see the glass as half empty and are afraid it will go dry. They recommend nothing to help fill the glass. Full of fear and criticism the republicans want to maintain the status of the half empty glass of water. the great republican presidents like Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower used their power to spend federal monies to unite our country, set aside our national parks systems and create the interstate infrastructure. Having the federal government involved in our lives has, in the most part, been a benefit to every american.

    January 25, 2012 at 3:08 am |
  2. Sonia B. Rodriguez

    As a Costa Rican citizen who grew up in New York and spent my first 19 years there, it shocks me to witness the lack of respect shown by some Americans for THE PRESIDENT OF THE USA. Incredible! I find it difficult to believe that members of Congress publicly insult him. Yet President Obama returns these "favors" with utmost respect towards all...a real gentleman. Tonight's address was a slap in the face wearing white gloves. Excellent!

    January 25, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  3. Jim

    Dear Anderson, As a family man, entrepreneur, veteran, non-partisan voter, and lover of our country, I found the President's speech useful, hope building, insightful, visionary, realistic, encouraging.... only falling short in tying the growth of jobs and manufacturing as the main tool to work on bringing down the deficit in concert with spending cuts, and tax reforms. But, the big problem is that neither mega-big businesses nor mega-big government are sustainable. The only way to get a handle on building a sustainable global economy is to localize the ownership and control over the resources. As long as big money from big business buys the governments and it's elected decision makers, the common folks will be oppressed, the environment destroyed, and freedom diminished.
    If you want to talk only about two and four year elections and quarterly and annual reports for the stockholders, then you need to prepare for economic, social, and environmental collapse. However, if you want to talk about generations and centuries of sustainable, prosperous, and dynamic global human social order.... then, only returning control of the resources to the localities from where they are derived.
    The answer is means a big change in how things are done in the world.... but, it must happen either by reason and rational human dynamism to bring about change or by the inevitable conclusion of an over-pressed and obsolete set of systems of human organization and governance.

    Should you desire to discuss this subject matter in depth, please feel free to contact me at the above email.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Jim Busher
    Happy Valley, California
    jimbusher@gmail.com

    January 25, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  4. Dunyan

    Watching the republican response and republican rhetoric is insulting America...imagine what our 'foreign quests' are seeing when watching this devisive discussion this evening...it EMBARRASSING AS AN AMERICAN!
    I am not Democrat or Republican. On some issues I am liberal, others conservative.
    But listening to the 'insults' of Gingrich (planet Obama) and lack of respect by Richie Rich Romney, is pushing me away from the GOP fast and hard.

    I paid particular attention to the BODY LANGUAGE and expressions over the President's left shoulder. I would love to hear an analysis by a qualified Behavioral Analyst. Does the Speaker of the House suffer from Rosasia? Is hi s face naturally that red?

    The Democrats are not attracting me, The GOP is pushing me into their camp.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  5. Linda Hutchinson

    I cheered and clapped all through the speech. Obama said everything I agree with.. There is one point I don't understand, isn't capital gains part of the rich cats' income? If so , then they are paying only 15% on part of their income. Aren't these some of the loop-holes Obama is talking about?
    This country has become too capitalistic, The rich Company CEO (etc.) are already taking their companies out of the country, they aren't making more jobs in this country with all the extra money by paying a third world country lower wages, the rich cats are keeping all the extra money. If their taxes are lowered, they will keep all that money, too!

    I wonder if Mitt Romney is counting as cherity the money he gives to the Mormon Church??

    January 24, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  6. Azad - Orlando, FL

    Recently, Florida Governor Rick Scott took credit for the unemployment rate fell a couple of percentage points. What has Rick Scott done to increase employment to claim that credit. We point fingers at the President for the unemployment rate, however, the Heads of State are claiming the credit for when it drops. Amazing isn't it?

    January 24, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  7. m hunt

    Will you please lose Paul Begala and Roland Martin from your "objective" political coverage. They bring no value to an objective conversation about politics. They only talk Democrat and go to all lengths even by making stupid points to praise Obama and the Democrats! CNN leans left enough, you don't need these two to tilt more so. You cannot say you are objective and fair.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  8. Reynaldo Bernal

    The republicans say that the goverment should not borrow money to create goverment subsidized jobs that are not sustainable. They say that sustainable jobs can be created only by the private sector, as they are the sole engine of growth. According to them, to create these jobs they need to pay lower taxes, so that they can generate jobs.

    But we see the wealthy in the private sector obtain record profits, and find ways to pay very low taxes, and still do not create any jobs either. So what why is that not really working?

    I think the issue is that most of the profits that the wealthy gain are not really used to generate growth but only to accumulate wealth and there if no feedback mechanims to ensure that the tax that they save are really used to generate jobs. They just pocket the money....

    But I think that then, it would make sense to implement tax code that would raise taxes on profits of the wealthy if they fail to generate a minimum/proportional number of new jobs, and keep them low if they proof they do.

    This will put incentive on the wealthy to use their capital to generate actual growth instead of simply wealth accumulation.

    So if I am rich, and I made 10MUS in profit last year, and I directly hired 0 new employees last year, I should pay 30% tax. But if I directly hired 50 people, they I will pay only 20% tax, and if I directly hired 100 people, I will pay only 15% tax, and if I hired 1000 people I would pay 10% tax.

    We should implement a positive feedback mechanism that ensures that they really do and live to the promise of their enterprise growth.

    In this way we ensure that you get tax credit if you actually generate direct employment, otherwise, you get to pay the same tax as other people, so that someone else (even the goverment) generates those jobs, since you didnt.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  9. George Papaioannou

    i watched the president Obama speech and i find it remarkable the Americans shall be proud to have a president like Obama, from the other hand i watch the republikan respond, he say to ask the Americans when they was better now with Obama or before the 3 trilion dollars why they dont ask the Americans when they was better now with Obama or before with the George W. Bush disaster

    January 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  10. Terry

    I was very impressed with the President's State of the Union Address tonite.

    In listening to the Republican debates for months now, it seems that all those in the race have tried to describe President Obama as someone who is negative about our country and who doesn't seem interested in promoting the U.S. as a world power. I was surprised that none of the CNN experts talked about these themes that President Obama emphasized throughout his speech ... as he repeatedly said that the U.S. is a great country and that to remain great we must engage in education & training so that Americans can fill the millions of U.S. jobs that are not being filled. The President's focus on job creation and tax incentives for businesses to hire more people ... and to bring jobs back to the U.S. ... appears to be part of his solution to getting our economy moving forward ... and ultimately will help address the incredible U.S. debt. I particularly liked the President's emphasis on what the U.S. can do if we move forward together ... and the examples he provided of our past successes upon which we can build. The applaus from Congress appeared less partisan than last year ... and hopefully Congress will respond to the wake up call that is reflected in polls that summarize our collective concerns. Our country pulled together in WWI and WWII ... and more recently after 9-11. Why can't our congressional leaders ... and the media work to rekindle the values that bring us together? I was surprised that Ari Fleisher said that the President didn't offer any solutions and that the President didn't address our economy. Was Ari even listening???

    January 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  11. Jeffrey

    Politics are a funny thing to watch people only hear what they want to hear. I can agree with Republicans on some issues even being a hard core Democrat. The President gave a great speech and everyone wants to blame him for everything but things can not get done without the Senate or the House of reps. Get these policys on his desk and quit felling the American People. Quit playing wiyh my families life. I am trying to get my sons into college. But i can barely afford it. I am a hard working American that has carried the same job for 19 years and still struggle to survive on my salary. I am still chasing that American Dream that we as the middle class are trying to achieve. We all still need our Government to help us in this Country.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  12. Gillian de Bruyn

    In order to show transparency in government and show Americans what is really happening in the Senate, all sessions should be screened live on television and short excerpts be screened on Prime Time local TV stations. This will really show Americans where their Senators and Congress stand on issues at hand. This may help stop the bipartisan bickering, as the politicians can be held accountable for their actions by the voters. Exceptions would be issues on national security and defence which should remain confidential. All other issues, including education, taxes, healthcare, immigration should be open for viewing.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  13. Jane - WI

    Will we be getting some fact checking of the President tonight?
    CNN likes to fact check Republican debates, so I hope we will see some fact checking of this President for a change.

    Also, it is a bit ironic that this very divisive President continues to call for people to get along. Perhaps he should set a better example by toning down his demeaning rhetoric about Republicans. He can read a good speech, but it would be better if he actually walked the talk himself.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  14. JoAnne

    Even though I do not share the President's political philosophy, I must commend him on a speech that was more presidential than political. Congratulations, Sir.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  15. Sushma Rai

    Whether it be America or Nepal, or any other country on this planet......politicians are not us! They talk the talk and we walk the walk!

    January 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  16. Tommy from Upstate NY

    Dear CNN:
    Obama just said women should get equal pay for equal work. Most people stood and applauded. Some did neither. Please put the names and photos of the people who remained seated so we can vote them out. These are obviously the people who would rather disagree then think.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  17. Mahaveer Challa

    Hi,
    Every time its the same speech. No one does anything. Keep saying a person can say $ 3000 by refinancing, but when we call the bank they so many conditions and they won't reduce the intrest rates.
    Every speech keep talking about comperhensive immigration reform, I have been in this contry for 11 years and I still don't have premenant residence card.
    Poloticians are realy poloticians....they have to come into real life and see the problems.....

    Every one keeps talking ... talking.
    Mahaveer

    January 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  18. danny farmer

    Laying down the GAUNTLETT, GOP is the party of NO! and all you have to do is open your eyes to see it! Forget them for at least 50 years until they are all gone because after all most of them are my parents age! I will miss my parents but not the rest of the GOP! THANKS!

    January 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  19. Senjie Lin

    what was President Obama doing in the last four years before he realized he needed to bring overseas American industry back to the US to revive the poor economy at home? Is this campaign promise or a real plan?

    January 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  20. katherine carter

    In order to do what he wants with education....he will have to get rid of the Unions. Really Unions do not care about education they are just a big corrupt business.

    January 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  21. mlhenry

    Yeah.....President Obama....speak the truth...the republican congress is not working with him. A nd one commentator said it best tonight(finally) they have been fighting against the president from day one.They would rather see the country fail ,then to see him succeed.The old guard is still in play.They would rather see you starve and sitting on the street then to pass any bill that the president puts forth. People start paying attention to the politics and not the color of the presidents skin.and as for the repub. your man mitch(Gov.Daniels) well he cant keep up with the money in his own state.So I will not be impressed with his rebuttal

    January 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  22. katherine carter

    I expect nothing ....just like I did when he took office. He talks a good game but really does not have what it takes to make that change that he campaigned on. Words are just words.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  23. Betty from Iowa

    I will be watching Pres Obama give the State of the Union speech tonight.
    I have heard the Reps that are running for office already critize our President, before the man takes the stage.
    They seem to forget-He is Our President. President of the United States of America. He speaks to all of the American people.
    I expect him to mention that we still have American Men and Women fighting in Afghansitan. Something the Rep. running for office seem to forget. That we still have Americans dying over there. Also–they forget just how much we are paying to keep our troops over there. A very big drain on our economy.
    We just had 6 men die in Afghanstan a few days ago. I am sure that they families are suffering from their loss.
    Hopefully the President can bring back this country to reality. That we all need to pull together-not divide this great country.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  24. RUTH

    If you have ever listened to a State of the Union Address this one will sound just like it did 40 years ago and everyone of them sounds the same.....and the politicians of this country still do not get it....they do not LIVE in OUR neighborhoods or our towns!!!

    January 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm |