Tonight's 2012 State of the Union address will start Obama's reelection campaign... not against the Republican candidate, but against Republican obstructionism in Congress and Republican endorsed unfairness in American taxation and division of income. The President has made it clear in recent days that this will be his strategy. Do not, however, expect his campaign to ignore attempts to "Swiftboat" him, or otherwise attack his record as President.
One theme tonight, and a constant theme throughout this campaign, will be tax inequality. Mitt Romney provided an excellent example by releasing his tax returns, which show his income taxed at a lower rate than almost all "ordinary" wage earners. No matter who becomes his opponent, the President will continue to hammer at the tax inequality between the wealthy and workers, and the Republicans' refusal to entertain even modest increases to help pay for a war never funded, the bills for which have now come due.
As he said in a video preview of his third State of the Union speech:
We can go in two directions. One is towards less opportunity and less fairness. Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few.
Whether he addresses the issue or not, the President's recent recess appointments, made, according to the President, to allow leaderless consumer protection departments to begin functioning, have made Republican obstructionism even more likely. The President made those appointments in the face of Republican determination to keep the departments non-functional in hopes of eliminating them with a Republican Presidential and Senatorial victory. Increased obstructionism, however, may backfire on the Republicans. It would come at a time of American voters' anger and disgust at the most completely "do nothing" Congress in history, as shown by a Congressional approval rating that has dipped into single digits upon occasion in the past few months.
On the good news side of the ledger, Obama will point to a steadily declining unemployment rate that reached a three-year low of 8.5% last month, an increase in the number of new jobs created each month, an increasingly robust rebound in durable goods and automotive sales, and predictions of continuation of those trends by most economists. President Obama and his economic team may have misjudged the depth of the coming recession in 2008, and thus the time it would take to recover. Economic recovery seems steady, and even increasing in some segments of the economy.
Obama will suggest that Republican candidates, and the party itself, have taken extreme positions that have left American voters confused, even shaken at the Party's disconnect with the needs of everyday Americans. He will also emphasize that legislation that is vital to the well-being of American citizens, especially workers, withered and died at the expense of the country, simply to insure that no such programs were implemented during his tenure. He will note that weeks, even months of attempts to reach compromise and agreement have resulted only in time lost on vital matters.
In short, the President will present to the American people a stark contrast in policy and philosophyÂ—an Administration and Democratic record of solving the worst economic disaster in America since the '30s despite attempted delay and obstruction at every turn, and a year of Republican-dominated Congressional failure unlike any before seen in American history.
Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons - President Obama Official Portrait