State of the Union rundown

Tuesday February 12, 2013

As President Obama prepares to give his State of the Union address tonight, pundits, media outlets and various other talking heads are giving you their rundowns on the top points to expect from the Commander in Chief.

No. 1 on almost everyone’s list is the economy.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl says the State of the Union will have a "heavy economic focus," and the president will describe the middle class as our nation’s "driver of economic growth."

"To drive home the point that the president sees jobs and the economy as his number one priority, the president’s travel after the speech will be used to promote his new economic initiatives," Karl writes. "The new initiatives will entail new federal spending, but the spending will be off-set by reductions elsewhere in the federal budget. In terms of cost, these initiatives will be relatively modest: the days of big economic stimulus programs are over."

We’d like to see the president make a strong case for bipartisan effort to discuss our country’s budget woes. The automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect March 1 should be avoided at all cost, and that will only happen if Republicans and Democrats can work together.

Next up? Climate change.

In a report published by American University, Jessica Durando makes the case that President Obama’s message on climate change and energy issues has evolved during his presidency.

She quotes Jordan Tama, assistant professor for the School of International Service and research fellow for the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, who says that Obama needs to address climate change in addition to areas such as the federal budget, spending and terrorism.

"In the second inaugural speech," Tama said, "he spoke eloquently about the need to take action to slow climate change, but he didn’t really explain what he intends to do. I think he has to say a little more about what he has in mind for the second term with regard to climate change."

After Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, the record drought in parts of the country, the devastating tornadoes to our south and the recent record-setting (in some areas) blizzard we’re still digging out of, climate is on a lot of Americans’ minds. While we were impressed to hear the president address this issue on the last campaign, we want to see someone take a clear step on a path toward actually addressing it.

And lastly, gun control.

The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., happened less than two months ago, and many used it as a clarion call for stronger gun control measures in our country. Do you know how many school shootings have taken place since Sandy Hook? (Hint: More than a handful.)

Durando quotes James Thurber, distinguished professor for SPA and director of the Center for Congressional and Political Studies, who believes that with unprecedented public support for tougher gun laws in the wake of (Sandy Hook) Š Obama will need to address gun control, too.

"Obviously, he’s going to talk about gun control measures," Thurber said. "And when he does, he’ll most likely have someone in the balcony to represent that symbolically."

We think there’s been enough talk and it’s time for Washington lawmakers to discuss this matter openly, and start placing restrictions on guns in our country. Nobody wants to take guns away, or infringe on rights. But there needs to be better tracking, background checks and penalties in place for those looking to circumvent laws aimed to protect Americans.

These are the three big items we expect the president to address, along with foreign policy and national security when it comes to countries like Iran, Syria, North Korea and Afghanistan.

Obama obviously has a gift for public speaking. It’s hard to walk away from any of his important, public addresses and not feel inspired. But we’re hoping he takes the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the next 12 months with clear goals in place and a good idea on how to reach them. That’s what we’d find most inspiring.


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