What’s next for the US?

Jan 242011
Authors: Erin Udell

With unemployment rates still high and recent Republican victories in Congress, local political experts expect Barack Obama to focus on jobs and the economy in tonight’s annual State of the Union address.

Despite the president’s recent rise in job-approval rating, the national unemployment rate is still at 9.4 percent, and recent surveys found that most people think the nation is still headed in the wrong direction, according to McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

“I believe the major focus of the President’s State of the Union address will be initiatives to accelerate job growth and reduce unemployment,” said Charles Revier, a retired professor from CSU’s Department of Economics. “I think that will include efforts to increase competitiveness vis-a-vis producers in other countries.”

“A part of the focus will be on partnering with business and understanding producers’ point of view,” Revier added.

According to the McClatchy-Tribune, the president will also use this speech as an opportunity to shape the debate with Republicans after their recent take-over in the House of Representatives.

“I expect Obama to be open to some adjustments in the recently passed health care reform legislation,” said John Straayer, a professor in CSU’s department of political science, in an e-mail to the Collegian. “But to also tout it as an important advance for millions of Americans who previously found health care to be unavailable or unaffordable for themselves and their families.”

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released on Wednesday, 53 percent of respondents approved of the job the president is doing, bringing his rate up 8 percentage points since December and leaving some to wonder if he can maintain this newfound increase in popularity.
Obama has gained liberal approval in recent months due to a new arms-control treaty and his role in ending “Don’t ask, don’t tell” a long-time law preventing openly gay soldiers from serving in the military.

Even more recently, Obama earned praise for giving a speech honoring victims of the Jan. 8 shooting rampage at a Tuscon, Ariz. grocery store, which led to the injury of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and deaths of six people.

But despite his recent achievements, the State of the Union will still test Obama’s abilities, said Leonard Steinhorn, a professor at American University and former political consultant and speechwriter.

“He has a tendency at times to get abstract — he tells but doesn’t show, lectures but doesn’t include his audience,” Steinhorn said to the McClatchy-Tribune. “He has to humanize his policies, make us part of them.

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com

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