FIVE BIG CHANGES IN CONGRESS SINCE OBAMA’S FIRST SOTU. As President Obama prepares to give his eighth and final State of the Union address, PowerPost looked back on the ways Congress has changed over the past seven years. Not only have the Republican ranks grown, but the members themselves have become more conservative, and the number of moderate Democrats has declined.
Seven years later, it’s a whole new world on Capitol Hill. It’s Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) who will serve as a backdrop for Obama’s final joint speech to Congress, surveying a sea of Republican faces that arrived in Washington in answer to conservative anger over Obama’s tenure.
The House and the Senate are vastly different than the ones Obama helped shape in 2008, when Democrats rose to claim majorities during the excitement of the president’s election. In 2009, Democrats held a 16-seat Senate majority and 79-seat House edge.Now, Republicans enjoy comfortable majorities in both chambers. The Republican rise was fueled by the tea party, and the president’s deals with Congress heavily influenced by the House Freedom Caucus — two groups which had yet to exist when Obama first arrived on Capitol Hill.
KIM DAVIS TO ATTENED SOTU. The Kentucky county clerk who was briefly jailed last year after refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples will be attending the State of the Union on Tuesday. Davis has become a minor celebrity in some conservative circles for her refusal to comply with the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Obama is expected to address the issue and has invited Supreme Court plaintiff Jim Obergefell to attend as his guest.
HILLARY PITCHES A SURTAX ON THE RICH. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday that she would introduce a 4 percent surtax on individuals earning more than $5 million. The latest element of her slowly emerging economic vision further bolsters her attempts to bolster her populist image. The Washington Post’s Jim Tankersley has a deeper look:
The surcharge is not, by itself, a game-changer for tax policy or the income inequality debate. It would apply to .02 percent of top income-earners, who would be looking at an effective top marginal income tax rate of nearly 45 percent if the surcharge goes through. Those earners are part of a group that saw its share of national incomes grow over the past few decades, though that share has fallen from its pre-recession high.
KEVIN BRADY’S TAX OVERHAUL PLAN. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) may be new to the job, but he’s already talking about his plans for a tax code rewrite. Brady said Monday that he plans to get into the full tax reform swing by 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Brady said he is planning to use 2016 to build up toward a more comprehensive push in 2017, under who he hopes will be a Republican president. No full tax overhaul has advanced out of committee.
In the meantime, Mr. Brady intends to move an international tax bill through his committee this year. That effort would impose mandatory one-time taxes on profits that U.S. companies have stockpiled