Politics
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 24:  U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill January 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. The president made a populist pitch to voters for economic fairness, saying the federal government should more do to balance the benefits of a capitalist society.  (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 24: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill January 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. The president made a populist pitch to voters for economic fairness, saying the federal government should more do to balance the benefits of a capitalist society. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)  

During State of the Union, Obama to claim economic benefits from progressive goals

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

White House officials are promising a course correction in President Obama’s Tuesday State of the Union speech, and predict he will play up the claimed economic benefits of his progressive policies, according to a series of media reports.

He’ll also head out on a three-day campaign swing starting Wednesday to promote his plans that “focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and those striving to get there,” said a Sunday White House statement.

That’s a shift from his second inaugural speech, which he used last month to tout a series of non-economic goals including improved social status for gays and lesbians.

His State of the Union speech is expected to boost a series of controversial priorities as good for middle class Americans, according to official leaks to favored establishment media outlets.

These priorities reportedly include winning a conditional amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants — most of whom are low-skill workers — plus increased spending on education, raising taxes on investors and employers, and boosting spending on so-called “green tech.”

But Obama is also expected to portray his non-economic priorities as good for the economy.

For example, The New York Times reported Sunday that the president would also announce that he will push ahead with plans to reduce the size of the nation’s already-reduced nuclear deterrent force.

“White House officials are looking at a cut that would take the arsenal of deployed weapons to just above 1,000 …. [down] about 1,700,” said the report, based on a briefing given by an “official who was involved in the [White House] deliberations.”

Obama, the official said, “believes that we can make pretty radical reductions — and save a lot of money — without compromising American security in the second term.”

The claimed economic rationale for Obama’s non-economic issues comes only three weeks after he delivered a self-written inauguration speech that devoted only a few words to the nation’s stalled economy.

Instead, he played up a series of social controversies, including new curbs on guns, easier immigration, and legal rights for gays and lesbians, estimated to comprise roughly 4 percent of the population.

Obama’s social-issue agenda came out just before a shocking Jan. 30 economic report — based on initial data — concluded the economy had contracted by 0.1 percent in the last three months of 2012. Also, the January jobs report showed the nation’s formal unemployment rose 0.1 percent, to 7.9 percent, in January.