Tales from the Trail

Obama’s State of the Union in a word cloud

Obama uttered the words “tax” or “taxes” 34 times as he called for higher taxes on the rich, echoing a recent partisan theme of Democrats accusing Republicans in Congress of favoring tax breaks that favor the wealthy.

The Democratic president, who faces reelection in November, emphasized a fair tax code just a day after Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, his potential rival, released tax returns that showed he pays a lower effective tax rate than many top wage-earners.

“We need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes,” Obama said.

Obama, who faces reelection amid a stubbornly high unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, also said the word “jobs” 32 times.

Americans’ expectations low ahead of Obama’s State of the Union

U.S. voters are looking to President Barack Obama to talk about jobs and the economy in his State of the Union address tonight, but doubt his ability to follow through on his proposals, two recent polls showed.

A survey done for the group Public Notice found that 62 percent of 805 likely voters said they were extremely or very interested in Obama’s speech tonight. The group describes itself as an independent non-profit focused on the economy and the role of government. Obama faces reelection in November amid a slowly improving U.S. economy.

Twenty-three percent said that jobs were the most important topic the president could talk about in his speech, while another 20 percent said the economy was the most important. Fourteen percent of respondents said government spending should be addressed, according to the poll.

Washington Extra – Say cheese

Civility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and last night it meant watching lawmakers smile with their teeth but not their eyes.

The day after the State of the Union it has become clear that the forced Kumbaya moment is being shrugged off for a return to the comfort of political sniping. But no one expected that rearranging the deck chairs would lead to a lasting group hug. OBAMA/

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — the state President Barack Obama chose for his day-after trip to the heartland — said when Obama mentions investment he means “government spending and government control. And that is the definite wrong direction.”

Salmon ‘chanted evening?

SALMONThe one word that leaped out of President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress wasn’t “optimism,” “business,” “teachers,” “economy” or “budget.”

To those who listened to the speech on National Public Radio, the memorable term was “salmon,” writ large in a word cloud NPR compiled from its listeners after Obama finished.

That kind of makes sense. Without the Punch-and-Judy theater of Republicans and Democrats popping up from their seats to cheer or boo, as they customarily do when they’re seated on opposing sides of the room for a presidential address, it was up to the Commander in Chief to deliver some chuckle-worthy lines.

from Ask...:

How would you grade Obama’s State of the Union speech?

OBAMA-SPEECHPresident Barack Obama proposed a five-year freeze on some government spending and struck a centrist tone in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, hoping to prove he has fiscal discipline and can work with resurgent Republicans.

Obama also said that voters want Democrats and Republicans to govern with "shared responsibility". He offered a raft of proposals that some of his opponents might find appealing as he positions himself for a 2012 re-election bid, but stopped short of the massive spending cuts demanded by some Republicans.

He called for a job-creating "Sputnik moment" fed by new investments in research and education like the 1950s space race, saying what is at stake is "whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else."  In a nod to business, Obama also called for lowering the corporate tax rate.

Obama’s SOTU speech as a word cloud

Below is a word cloud generated from President Barack Obama’s prepared State of the Union speech:
obamanewcloud

State of the Union liveblog

Watch here for the State of the Union liveblog.

Supreme Court votes 6-3 on attending Obama’s speech

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Six U.S. Supreme Court justices plan to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, the same number as last year when Obama criticized the court’s corporate political spending ruling.

There had been speculation that fewer justices might show up after Obama’s rare rebuke for the ruling by the conservative majority striking down corporate election spending limits.

A court spokeswoman said six of the nine justices plan on going. She said one who won’t be attending is Justice Samuel Alito, who happens to be in Hawaii this week for a previously scheduled law school speech.

As Obama speaks, Democrats target GOP’s Ryan

RTXCDYH_Comp-150x150President Barack Obama may grab all the headlines with his State of the Union address. But Democrats want the GOP’s chosen responder, Paul Ryan, to share the spotlight — as poster boy for politically unpopular ideas that could be used against Republicans in 2012.

Here’s New York Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer’s take on Ryan on that electorally tender topic, Social Security. “What Paul Ryan suggests — privatization — is really a dismantling of Social Security,” he tells MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

More than that, Schumer says Ryan epitomizes policies that are straight out of the 1920s, those heady days of flappers, speakeasys and laissez-faire good times that preceded the Great Depression.

Washington Extra – Laundry list

The White House is promising that tomorrow’s State of the Union address will be something different.

And by that, they apparently mean it will not be a dry recitation of all the things that need to be done. “I don’t think you’ll see a laundry list of issues,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declared. OBAMA/

Well then, how will President Barack Obama get his points across about all that’s on the plate for this year and all the help he’s going to need from a politically divided Congress?