PREVIEW OF THE STATE OF THE UNION
President Obama is trying to advance his most ambitious legislative agenda since his first year in office. Here's a preview of points he is expected to address during his State of the Union address on Tuesday:
Obama said last week that his address will zero in on jobs. "I'm going to be talking about making sure that we're focused on job creation here in the United States of America," he said at a Democratic House retreat. He indicated he would tie other items on his agenda -- education, immigration and the development of "clean energy" technology -- into the need to improve the economy and create jobs.
Obama also said he would press for an "equity agenda." "I think it's also important for us to feel confident and bold about the values we care about and what we stand for," he said at the retreat. "Over the next four years, as I work with this caucus and every caucus, the question I will ask myself on every item, every issue is: Is this helping to make sure that everybody's got a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share and everybody's playing by the same rules, because I believe that is a growth agenda, not just an equity agenda, not just a fairness agenda. That is a growth agenda. That is when we have grown fastest."
Obama said he would frame the fiscal battles with Congress in familiar terms as he called for an end to "governance by crisis."
Ahead of dramatic across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect in March, known as the sequester, Obama said he was "prepared, eager and anxious" to reach a significant deal to avert not only the sequester but future debt-ceiling crises and government-funding showdowns.
Obama claimed that Republicans would seek to replace the sequester with cuts to entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, while refusing to raise new tax revenue. "I believe the American people understand that, yes, we need to do -- reduce the deficit, but it shouldn't just be on the backs of seniors," students and working families, he said. Republicans argue that the president won all the new revenue he will in the fiscal cliff deal, which raised taxes on Americans who earn $400,000 or more a year while putting off the sequester for two months -- a fight the sides are girding for again now.
The president is pressing for sweeping new gun-control measures, including requiring more firearms purchasers to undergo background checks and a ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
At least 23 House Democrats -- including Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota -- are planning to bring people affected by gun violence to the State of the Union address as part of an effort to press for new gun-control measures in Congress. Each member of Congress may bring one guest. Ellison has invited Sami Rahamim, the 17-year-old son of Accent Signage owner Reuven Rahamim, who died in a mass shooting at the Minneapolis firm in September.
Obama is expected to renew his call to overhaul immigration laws. He has his support for a "path to citizenship" for millions of illegal immigrants a sensible idea. "We need to get immigration reform done," he said.
He is expected to renew his pledge to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan in 2014. And he is expected to defend his administration's policy of using drones to attack U.S. enemies.