There is now a date set for President Barack Obama's next State of the Union Address. On Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-OH formally invited the President to give his address, which will be delivered on Jan. 28, 2014 at 9 p.m EST to both Congress and the nation, as it is the President's most watched speech of the year.
The formal invitation is an annual tradition, where it is required for the Speaker of the House to invite the President to speak to the Joint Session of Congress in the House's chamber.
Speaker Boehner's invitation this year read; "In the coming year, Americans expect Washington to focus on their priorities and to look for common ground in addressing the challenges facing our country. In that spirit, we welcome an opportunity to hear your ideas, particularly for putting Americans back to work. It's my honor to invite you to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, January 28, 2014."
At the Daily Press Briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that President Obama has accepted Boehner's invitation.
The President's address will most probably focus a large part on economic equality and mobility. It is a new focus for the remainder of his Presidency that Obama unveiled in a speech delivered on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The President stated economic inequality is the "defining challenge of our time," and "a fundamental threat to the American Dream." The speech is a follow up to the President's Dec. 2011 speech on the economy delivered in Osawatomie, Kansas. At the time a White House aide divulged that the speech includes themes and elements that will be present in the President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address in January.
The President took on a different angle to the economy and to the middle class and jobs challenges Americans face, by focusing on the growing problem of economic inequality, and lack of mobility in the United States. Obama emphasized; "This is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American. That's why I ran for president. It was the center of last year's campaign. It drives everything I do in this office."
In that speech Obama outlined policy solutions that would help; education; higher education with easy access to student aid and universal preschools, manufacturing jobs, higher minimum wage, initiatives to revamp urban and rural communities, break the stigma of "long term unemployment," and ensuring the future of social security. The President will probably reiterate those solutions in his State of the Union Address.
This year's address is especially important because it is a midterm election year, and for President Obama who is perpetually in campaign mode he will be trying to sell his agenda for the upcoming year and working towards helping the Democrats recapture control of the House of Representatives, and help Senate Democrats maintain control of the Senate.
The President needs both Houses of Congress to be in Democratic control in order to pass the remainder of the agenda, including a sweeping immigration reform bill. If the House stays in Republican hands, the same stand still on legislation and Obama's agenda will remain, and maybe be enforced by an election victory guaranteeing that President Obama will be a lame duck for the last two years of his Presidency. And with the new Senate rules on filibuster it would devastating for the President if the Republicans capture the Senate possibly paving the way for a repeal of his unpopular health care law, known as Obamacare.
With the President's sinking approval rating slowly reaching the 30 percentages and his disapproval rating reaching unprecedented heights in recent polls released this past week, mostly because of the disaster health care law, the Affordable Care Act rollout in October. Both the insurance purchasing Marketplace website, HealthCare.gov was riddled with errors and did not properly work and millions of Americans were losing their coverage with the law's new minimum requirement. The website has since been mostly repaired since meeting the Nov. 30 White House imposed deadline and in November the President allowed insurance companies to reinstate the cancelled insurance policies or let Americans who lost their insurance buy similar ones through 2014.
In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Wednesday, Dec. 11, President Obama's new disapproval rating was at 54 percent, and approval rating at 43 percent; a 11 point gap the highest in this poll. However, those numbers were good in comparison to Quinnipiac University's poll released Tuesday, Dec. 10, which gave the President his highest disapproval rating and one of the lowest approval ratings at 57 percent to 38 percent, a 19 point difference.
The President will focus on themes that emphasize his strengths in his State of the Union Address. With the economy improving and unemployment rates dropping, now is a good opportunity for President Obama to stress the economy, as a means of both rebounding his fast worsening poll numbers, and help the Democrats' chances in the 2014 midterm elections.