Archives: President Obama 2011 State of the Union Address Predictions

Originally published in January 2011
Simon Nguyen

The 2011 State of the Union address is scheduled for January 25 at the U.S. Capitol. This will be President Obama’s second such address, and it comes at a critical juncture. The President’s party has just been soundly defeated by the Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections. While there were many factors that contributed to the Democrats’ net loss of 63 House seats, the American people have made it abundantly clear that they want a new direction for the country. The 2011 State of the Union address is an opportunity for President Barack Obama to reshape his agenda to align it with that of his constituents. This article previews Obama’s State of the Union address and offers predictions.

President Obama has accomplished more in his first two years in office than most Democratic presidents in their tenure. He pushed through a gigantic stimulus bill, historic health care reform legislation, and massive bailouts for corporations and troubled homeowners. While many of these policies were necessary (due to the problems inherited from the previous administration), they were so badly crafted and implemented that there have been more harms than benefits. Case in point, the job market remains very weak despite the huge stimulus package. Instead, the expense adds extra burdens on the already massive federal budget deficit.

The recent tragedy in Tucson, which nearly took the life of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, provides President Obama an opportunity to focus on something that everyone could sympathize with rather than having to talk about his highly unpopular policies. Indeed, Obama is likely to spend most of his 2011 State of the Union address talking about the Tucson tragedy and the need for politicians from both sides of the aisle to tone down the rhetoric. He will also talk about Gabrielle Giffords on personal terms, and praise the unsung heroes who prevented the madman from taking even more lives.

President Obama is expected to follow up on his call for a more civil tone in Washington, by calling on politicians from both parties to work together to help solve America’s big problems. As the 2011 State of the Union will mark Obama’s endeavor to the political center, we should expect that the President will give nods to key GOP members, notably the new Speaker of the House John Boehner. He will also discuss the need to cut government spending and reduce federal debts. One thing is very clear. There will be a lot more standing ovations (from both caucuses) during this year’s address than last year’s.

Presidents have generally used their State of the Union address to laud their achievements over the past year, and this one won’t be an exception. Obama is expected to highlight the improving job market and business conditions. He will undoubtedly take credit for extending tax cuts for all Americans. Likely missing from his parade of achievements are health care legislation and the stimulus package. It will be interesting to track how many times the President will use words like “tax cuts” and “businesses create jobs” as opposed to “health care” and “stimulus”. On the foreign policy front, the 2011 State of the Union address will focus on the START treaty as well as U.S.-China relations. Obama is likely to reaffirm his commitment for a timely troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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