February 12, 2013

Obama to stress jobs in State of the Union

Jim Kuhnhenn / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Jarrett said Obama remains interested in a deal with Republicans to avoid automatic budget cuts on March 1 and revealed that he and House Speaker John Boehner had been "just moments apart" from striking a large-scale agreement on taxes and spending at the end of last year, but that the Ohio Republican couldn't sell it to his party's House caucus.

The renewed emphasis on job creation will dominate the message that Obama will take to the road in the days after his speech, pushing his economic recovery proposals during stops in North Carolina, Georgia and his hometown of Chicago. Obama is expected to reiterate his calls for revitalizing the manufacturing sector; he pledged during his campaign that he would create 1 million new manufacturing jobs during his second term. Following a sluggish 2012, manufacturing grew at a faster pace last month, driven by an increase in new orders and more hiring at factories.

His call for measures that prod the economy will play out as he presses Congress to avoid deep spending cuts that are scheduled to begin automatically on March 1. Obama wants instead a mix of tax revenue and cuts in spending that he has promoted as a "balanced" approach to easing federal deficits.

Obama has called for raising more revenue through ending tax breaks and closing loopholes, but he has not detailed a list of targets. He and his aides often mention as examples of unnecessary tax breaks a benefit for owners of private jets and tax subsidies for oil and gas companies. Such measures are modest, however. Ending the corporate plane and oil and gas breaks would generate about $43 billion in revenue over 10 years.

That appeal for new revenue is getting stiff-armed by Republicans, who reluctantly agreed at the start of the year to increase tax rates on the wealthiest Americans in exchange for extending Bush-era tax rates for the rest of taxpayers.

"He's gotten all the revenue he's going to get," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday. "Been there, done that."

With Republicans in control of the House and exerting influence in the Senate, Obama intends to employ all the tools at his disposal in an effort to win over the public to put pressure on Congress.

The White House and Obama's allies are launching simultaneous social media, public outreach and fundraising campaigns tied to his State of the Union address. Those efforts were successful in his re-election campaign and Obama aides believe they could be as effective in pushing policies as they were in pushing his candidacy.

"He's got to strike now," said presidential historian Allan Lichtman of American University, who believes the economy, the environment and long-term changes in federal entitlements are key to Obama's legacy. "Next year he won't have the ear of the public in the same way he has this time."

Jarrett appeared Tuesday morning on "CBS This Morning" and NBC's "Today" show.

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