Obama to revive his populist message in address Tuesday

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, talks about proposals to reduce gun violence at the White House in Washington. Obama has called for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and is pushing other policies in the wake of the mass shooting in December 2012 at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. In response, gun-rights advocates have accused Obama and others of ignoring the Second Amendment rights of Americans. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, talks about proposals to reduce gun violence at the White House in Washington. Obama has called for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and is pushing other policies in the wake of the mass shooting in December 2012 at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. In response, gun-rights advocates have accused Obama and others of ignoring the Second Amendment rights of Americans. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File) (Charles Dharapak)
Posted: February 13, 2013

WASHINGTON - Reviving his populist re-election message, President Obama will press a politically divided Congress to approve more tax increases and fewer spending cuts, during a State of the Union address focused on stabilizing the middle class and repairing the still-wobbly economy.

The agenda Obama will outline Tuesday before a joint session of Congress will include more money for infrastructure, clean energy technologies, and manufacturing jobs, as well as for expanding access to early childhood education.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would outline "his plan to create jobs and grow the middle class" as the nation struggles with persistently high unemployment.

Some of Obama's job ideas will be repackaged versions of proposals he made during his first term, though aides say there will be some new initiatives, too. All of the economic proposals are expected to echo themes from Obama's re-election campaign, which focused on using increased spending to generate jobs, protecting programs to help the middle class, and bringing down the deficit, in part by culling more tax revenue from the wealthiest Americans.

Republicans have shown little sign of falling in line behind the president as he starts his second term, particularly when it comes to taxes.

"Clearly, the president wants more revenue for more government," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said in an interview. "He's gotten all the revenue he's going to get. Been there, done that."

The backdrop for Obama's address will be a March 1 deadline for averting automatic across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester. The president wants lawmakers to push that deadline back for a second time to create space for a larger deficit-reduction deal, one he hopes will include a balance of targeted cuts and increased tax revenue. Republicans want to offset the sequester with spending cuts alone.

As he addresses lawmakers and the American people, Obama is expected to say government entitlement programs should be on the table in deficit-reduction talks. But he will also make the case that programs that help the middle class, the poor, and the elderly must be protected.

In keeping with that approach, the White House said Monday that Obama would not consider increasing the Medicare eligibility age as a way to reduce spending.

Obama will also press Congress to support his proposals for overhauling the nation's immigration laws and tightening gun measures.

Foreign policy will take a backseat to domestic issues, though Obama may discuss next steps for drawing down U.S. troops from Afghanistan and reducing the nation's nuclear stockpile.

The president will follow up his State of the Union address with three-day tour around the country.

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