White House Rolls Out State of the Union ‘Spoilers’
Policy + Politics

White House Rolls Out State of the Union ‘Spoilers’

Presidents usually hold the contents of their annual State of the Union addresses pretty close to the vest, letting details about their intentions leak out in dribs and drabs in an effort to gin up expectations ahead of the big night. This year, President Obama is taking a different approach, delivering a series of speeches across the country containing what White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer described as “spoilers.”

In an op-ed posted to the website Medium on Wednesday, Pfeiffer outlined the week ahead for Obama, dropping some hints about the proposals he would outline.

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The president begins today with remarks in Wayne, Mich., which will focus on the automobile industry’s recovery in the wake of its near collapse during the Great Recession. Of the three speeches Pfeiffer previews, he provides the least detail about this one. Apparently, the president will take another victory lap celebrating the success of the administration’s decision to bail out Detroit in 2009.

“Six years later — as the President will note today — the American auto industry has roared back to life,” Pfeiffer wrote. “Since mid-2009, they’ve added more than 500,000 jobs. Last year, American autoworkers built cars faster than any year since 2005. Not to mention they’ve repaid taxpayers every dime and more of what the Obama administration committed to them.”

In remarks he is scheduled to deliver in Phoenix on Thursday, Obama will tout what the White House describes as another victory: the recovery of the housing market. Even with the improvement there, Pfeiffer wrote, “homeownership is out of reach for too many Americans — families who can afford to buy a home, but find themselves shut out because the lending market is too tight. That’s why the President will announce a new executive action that will help more responsible Americans own a home, building on efforts already underway to cut red tape that holds them back.”

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Finally, Obama will speak Friday in Knoxville, Tenn. about education. According to Pfeiffer, the president will make proposals aimed at making it easier for young people to earn a college education.

“In Tennessee, he’ll also launch a new manufacturing innovation hub — a private sector partnership that will attract more good-paying middle-class jobs in high-tech manufacturing to Tennessee,” Pfeiffer said. 

Pfeiffer made it clear that the president will also take credit for strong job growth, low gas prices, and what he described as seeing “the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to a responsible end.”

This last will no doubt provoke some pushback from critics, who will correctly note that the incoming Congress is expected to debate a new authorization for the use of military force to allow the president to continue military operations against the terror group ISIS, much of which is happening in Iraq. 

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