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Obama's State of the Union: What to Expect

Updated on February 12, 2013

Here we are at the start of Obama's second term as President of the United States. His first State of the Union address for this second term is tonight. It will set the tone for the remainder of his tenure.

Will he go back to the bipartisan Obama of the past? Or will he continue his liberal message from his inauguration speech?

We'll find out tonight when he makes his speech at 9 pm eastern time / 8 pm central time. But, here's a few things to look out for.

1. More troops withdrawing from Afghanistan

Reports this morning say that he'll announce during his speech that nearly 34,000 troops will be home from Afghanistan by this time next year. This isn't exactly a major surprise. The Afghanistan War is coming to an official close in 2014, so the withdrawing of troops isn't really surprising, but it is an affirmation of how serious he is at getting out of Afghanistan. After the 34,000 leave, our presence there will be cut in half, roughly.

There's still the lingering question of how many troops we will leave there even after 2014. Reports suggest that the Administration hasn't quite settled on an exact number yet, but it could be as much as 10,000 or 0. They haven't ruled out leaving completely, but the problem is that the Afghan Security forces that will be taking over are sorely less prepared than U.S troops or international ones. I, for one, hope he will mention something about this.

2. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

This is the major point. Many criticized Obama for not focusing on the economy enough during his inaugural speech. So, expect him to mention many proposals for boosting the economy, such as infrastructure and clean energy projects, which will create thousands of jobs. He will probably also highlight, in some fashion, the American Jobs Act of 2011 that failed to ever pass. Once it failed to overcome a Senate filibuster, Obama vowed to split it up into smaller bills. Sadly, this didn't go so well. All of the smaller bills, except one, which was the Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act of 2011, failed to pass in numerous ways. So, I expect Obama to chide lawmakers for not passing it, or even offering a new version.

Since he will have the undivided attention of the American public (well, a good chunk, anyway) without the filter of the media, expect him to shame the lawmakers for obstructionism. Perhaps he will appeal to their sense of duty and the trust the American people have placed with them. For this, I think he might go a little bi-partisan.

3. Drones?

This is really up in the air, but I expect him to at least mention it. This is his best opportunity to directly address the nation and explain why he thinks he has the legal right to assassinate American citizens abroad. If there was perfect opportunity, this is it.

It's also possible that he might just not mention it at all and focus of the economy. It's really 50/50 whether he will or won't.

4. North Korean nuclear test

This one I'm not so sure about because it literally just happened. This speech is written months in advance, with Obama probably editing it up until the time he gives it. So, it's quite unknown, but North Korea broke many sanctions against them (again, mind you) when it tested nuclear weapons for the third time last night. In his statement around 1 am, Obama made it clear that they won't acquire a nuclear weapon, which is similar to the situation with Iran.

If he wanted to allay the fears of the American public, then this would be the golden opportunity. There's only so much comfort that can come from a statement.

5. Immigration and gun control legislation

This is pretty much a lock. He will mention the progress that Congress has achieved on those two issues. A particular highlight will be Immigration reform because of the bi-partisan support for it. The Gang of Eight, which includes Republicans and Democrats, have proposed their plan, which mirrors Obama's official plan in many ways. Expect him to mention that as a highlight of what we can achieve when we work together.

Gun control legislation is a bit more testy. The proposed Assault Weapons Ban looks completely dead on arrival. He may get his way with universal background checks, but I expect him to still push for everything he proposed in his gun control plan. He'll aim high for the Assault Weapons Ban, and probably come out with many of things he wants, in exchange for not passing the aforementioned AWB.

The end of this article lies here

I'm sure there are many things I haven't listed here, but these are the main things we expect from his speech. The interesting thing to look out for is who will show up. The liberal, big government Obama from the inaugural speech, or the more bi-partisan Obama from his first term. I expect the former. But, we shall see.

I'll update this post with the reaction to the State of the Union after I've seen it.

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