Published On: Tue, Jan 20th, 2015

How to Predict What the President Will Say at the State of the Union Address

obama state of the union

Can anyone just wait for the State of the Union address anymore? Could they ever? Social and traditional media have been awash with prognostications and hints about what President Obama is going to discuss on Tuesday night. Political pundits on the Sunday Morning talk shows such as Meet the Press are useful sources for finding out ahead of time what issues the President is going to address. Top White House aide Dan Pfeiffer said on Meet the Press, “Let me give you a theme of the speech in three words: Middle class economics.” The President is expected to unveil a tax proposal that would triple child care tax credit for middle class families, give a $500 credit for households that have two working spouses and breaks for students repaying loans as well as proposals for free community college degrees. This would be funded by tax hikes on the wealthy, who may see their capital gains tax rate go from 23.8% to 28%.

Another way of predicting what the President will emphasize is to look at the guests who are sitting in the First Lady’s box, according to the Washington Times. Stephen Dinan writes that the guests in the box are “part oratorical punctuation for the president’s priorities and part rose-tinted window into America’s soul.” The guests include a doctor working to stop the spread of ebola, union workers, a gun violence victim, a government worker who was freed in a prisoner exchange as part of creating ties with Cuba and an illegal immigrant who has benefited from President Obama’s temporary amnesty on forced deportation.

Those involved in public relations for the White House have found it useful to engage prospective viewers through social media before and after the State of the Union. They find it helpful to hint at, or even leak, new policy directions that President will address in the speech. On the White House’s Facebook page, a video about waiving tuition at community colleges for students with strong academic achievement garnered 8.3 million views, including a second version that received 395, 000 views, and has become the most popular video of the Obama Presidency.

Of course, Obama will discuss many other issues besides these, and many are waiting to hear what he will say about a foreign policy against ISIS and in Syria, an issue Major Garrett of CBS News says the White House has been “vague to the point of aloofness.” We’ll find out on Tuesday night, if Twitter doesn’t telegraph it first.

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