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State of the Union Preview: Opportunity and Action [Column]

Will you be tuning in?

To address such concerns, he will focus on:

Strengthening the middle class: As part of that agenda item, the president will elaborate on his plan to form partnerships with local government and industry to create jobs and small businesses. He stated his administration’s renewed commitment to work with municipalities in remarks to 250 officials during the US Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting last week. He will continue to emphasize the need to produce employment through manufacturing and infrastructure.

Income inequality. Obama will continue to make the argument that all Americans need a shot at gaining livable earnings. He will use the speech to pressure Congress to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25 an hour – a move currently being pushed by legislatures in about 30 states.

Immigration reform. The president seeks to make good on this campaign promise but the White House and the GOP continue to be at an impasse. The fact that GOP lawmakers are attempting to unveil their own plan to overhaul the immigration system this week may provide the White House and congressional Democrats with an opening for a bipartisan solution by the end of this year.

Education. The president and First Lady gave a preview of their continued advocacy for extending educational opportunities when they revealed their proposal earlier this month to offer a series of initiatives and grants to help low-income students gain access to a college education.

Gun violence. With the increased demand to address gun violence after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and daily reports of mass shootings, this pressing issue has been placed on the back burner. The president issued executive orders this month that focused on gun control. He will include such measures to further communicate his use of executive action when Congress is unwilling to move.

The State of the Union address will be Obama’s effort to reset his administration and begin the process of winning back his standing. I will be live-tweeting the most important speech of the year tonight and, at the same time, gauging the public’s reaction.

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