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February 12, 2013

Obama to revive populist message in State of Union

WASHINGTON — Reviving his populist re-election message, President Barack Obama will press a politically-divided Congress to approve more tax increases and fewer spending cuts during a State of the Union address focused on stabilizing the middle class and repairing the still-wobbly economy.

The agenda Obama will outline today before a joint session of Congress will include more money for infrastructure, clean energy technologies and manufacturing jobs, as well as expanding access to early childhood education.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would outline “his plan to create jobs and grow the middle class” as the nation struggles with persistently high unemployment.

Some of Obama’s job ideas will be repackaged versions of proposals he made during his first term, though aides say there will be some new initiatives, too. All of the economic proposals are expected to echo themes from Obama’s re-election campaign, which focused on using increased spending to generate jobs, protecting programs to help the middle class, and bringing down the deficit in part by culling more tax revenue from the wealthiest Americans.

Obama has called for raising more revenue through closing tax breaks and loopholes, but he has not detailed a list of targets. He and his aides often mention as examples of unnecessary tax breaks a benefit for owners of private jets and tax subsidies for oil and gas companies. Such measures are modest, however. Ending the corporate plane and oil and gas breaks would generate about $43 billion in revenue over 10 years.

The backdrop for Obama’s address will be a March 1 deadline for averting automatic across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester.

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