President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union during his second term in office will likely give voters a preview of what to expect from the next four years. The stage has been set for a strong push for gun policy reform, additional measures to address climate change, and a focus on immigration.
However, one topic that the president will have to focus heavily on that he surprisingly didn't devote much time on during his inaugural address is the economy.
While consumer confidence reached a five-year high two weeks ago, it is unclear how solid this optimism is. Gallup reported a slight drop in confidence on Tuesday from -8 to -13. That being said, economic confidence is still not far from that five-year high. Possible contributors to the decline include a rise in gas prices and the 2013 increase in payroll taxes.
With little being done in Washington to help ease concerns over economic challenges the country still faces, many Americans want answers and will be looking to President Obama to offer reasonable solutions.
The United States has seen consecutive months of job growth, but it has not been enough to keep pace with population growth. It is a fact that the president’s political opponents are always quick to point out.
It can be a vicious cycle. Growth in GDP has not been significant which doesn’t boost the confidence of job creators and, therefore, employers are reluctant to hire. A slow-to-recover labor market can, in turn, have a negative affect on overall economic growth.
Opponents of the president have been critical of the fact that he spoke very little on economic policy during the Presidential Inauguration. The economy, jobs, the national deficit and debt, government spending, and tax policy took a back seat to hotly debated social and domestic issues.
The White House has guaranteed that President Obama will use the State of the Union to lay out his agenda on strengthening economic growth and to provide solutions to the nation's biggest fiscal challenges.
The president has a chance to assure the American people that there is a reason to have more confidence in the economy and address concerns over the federal debt, deficit, and tax situation. A failure to adequately speak on these topics would backfire as the Republican response from Sen. Marco Rubio will likely include strong criticisms of Obama's fiscal policies.