White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said over the weekend that President Obama's entire State of the Union plan would "absolutely not" be passed by Congress. Now the Associated Press is saying that speech's goal is to influence the 2016 presidential election debate.
"Key elements of the economic proposals President Barack Obama will outline in his State of the Union address Tuesday appear to be aimed at driving the debate in the 2016 election on income inequality and middle-class economic issues, rather than setting a realistic agenda for Congress.
"Obama's calls for increasing taxes on the wealthy, making community college free for many students and expanding paid leave for workers stand little chance of winning approval from the new Republican majority on Capitol Hill. But the debate over middle-class economics is looking critical for the coming campaign," writes the wire service.
As the nation's attention increasingly turns to the 2016 election, the Obama White House is making clear that it still wants to set the terms of the economic conversation.
"I think we should have a debate in this country between middle-class economics and trickle-down economics and see if we can come to an agreement on the things we do agree on," White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation."
The president's advisers argue that's a debate they have won previously, including in Obama's victory over Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign and the fiscal cliff fight with Congress that led to the raising of George W. Bush-era tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.
However, Obama no longer has the political advantage on Capitol Hill that he would need to enact more tax increases. When Obama addresses Congress Tuesday night, he will be standing before a Republican majority in both chambers for the first time in his presidency.
But there is an interesting wrinkle. As the AP notes, one of the key proposals is raising capital gains taxes. "The president's proposal would increase the capital gains rate on couples making more than $500,000 annually to 28 percent, require estates to pay capital gains taxes on securities at the time they're inherited, and slap a fee on the roughly 100 U.S. financial firms with assets of more than $50 billion."
Hillary Clinton, the prohibitive front-runner in the Democratic party, has opposed raising the capital gains tax above 20 percent, as the Washington Free Beacon notes:
Clinton goes unmentioned in the wire story.