State of Union: Obama's middle class focus

Feb. 11, 2013 at 4:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. job growth, building the middle class and rebuilding old roads and bridges will be points in President Obama's State of the Union speech, aides say.

Obama's nationally televised speech Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress will focus on job creation, White House aides told several news organizations.

As part of his vision for boosting the economy and supporting the middle class, he is also expected to tout proposals in education, energy, manufacturing and the nation's aging roads, bridges and ports, an aide told The Wall Street Journal.

Rebuilding infrastructure is an example of a proposal the White House believes will resonate with Republican lawmakers since they have decaying bridges and aging roadways in their districts and might be open to spending money to improve them, White House officials cited by the Journal said.

The day after the address, Obama is scheduled to hit the road for a few days, touting his State of the Union proposals to audiences in conservative states North Carolina and Georgia and liberal state Illinois.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told the Journal Obama hadn't contacted him about what he'll say in his address.

"If he did reach out to me, I would tell him, 'Look, I believe that there is an opportunity for all of us to come together right now and help some people who are suffering,'" Cantor told the newspaper.

Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican, gave a speech last week in which he repositioned the Republican Party as a party that wants to helping U.S. families rather than fussing so much about spending cuts and deficit reduction.

In his address, Obama is also expected to warn that the "sequester" -- the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts due to start March 1 -- poses a grave threat to the struggling U.S. recovery.

"What we do need is more revenue, and more cuts, but I would like to see that a big, balanced, bold [budget] proposal," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told "Fox News Sunday." "Short of that, we must do something to avoid the sequester."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is scheduled to deliver the Republican response to Obama's address. Rubio is often mentioned as a 2016 presidential contender.

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