The president will use the speech to offer his blueprint for creating a stronger economy, building on the populist themes of his fall jobs tour, which, the White House believes, offer a sharp contrast with Obama’s Republican presidential rivals.
The Buffett rule — which the president said was developed after the billionaire investor said he paid a lower effective tax rate than Bosanek, his secretary — forms a key component of Obama’s plan to boost short-term spending to help create jobs for the middle class.
And Bosanek will offer a sharp symbolic juxtaposition with the GOP on a day when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released tax returns that show he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent on his 2010 income of $21.6 million. He estimates payment of an effective rate of 15.4 percent on income of $20.9 million in 2011.
Obama “will be very clear about his vision, will be very clear about his principles ... about fair play and people getting a fair shot, economic security and protecting the middle class,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Republicans have vowed to oppose any new revenue — including new taxes on millionaires — at a time when the national deficit continues to soar and Congress is trying to identify $1.5 trillion in budget cuts agreed to last summer.
Yet with the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and middle class set to expire by year’s end, Obama could use his speech to demand that Republicans engage him in a broader restructuring of the tax code.
At the Capitol, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that Obama’s policies “are just going to double down on what hasn’t worked.... It sounds like we’re going to see a rerun of what we’ve seen over the last three years.”
Asked about Obama’s expected focus on income inequality, Boehner argued that “the politics of envy, the politics of dividing our country is not what our country is all about.”
Obama’s GOP adversaries have cast Obama’s speech as the latest round in a series of “failed promises.” The Republican National Committee launched a television advertisement aimed at driving home that message in Washington and three cities in electoral battleground states: Charlotte, Norfolk and Grand Rapids, Mich.
The ad, titled “State of Our Union”, highlights the country’s high unemployment and mentions the Obama administration’s investment in the green energy company, Solyndra, which went bankrupt last year after receiving a $500 million, government-backed loan.