Obama Bets on Government to Solve Nation's Ills

State of the Union will reprise his message of economic fairness.

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President Obama will draw a series of sharp contrasts between himself and Republicans in his State of the Union address tomorrow night regarding who can best protect and promote the middle class, .

Obama will argue that government should help businesses and individuals in an aggressive way--a point designed to set him apart from GOP leaders in Congress and Republican presidential candidates who favor a dramatic reduction in the role of Washington. He will urge Congress to approve more investments in infrastructure, such as roads and bridges; more funding for education; an overhaul of immigration law, and higher taxes on the rich, White House officials tell me.

Obama remains hopeful that congressional Republicans will compromise on some of these issues in order to "deliver something" to the country at a time when the job-approval rating for Congress is at rock bottom, a key Obama adviser says. But that won't prevent him from continuing the combative, quasi-populist message that he has been emphasizing in recent weeks as he begins his drive for re-election.

Obama gave a preview of the address in a video sent to campaign supporters Saturday. "We can go in two directions," he said. "One is toward less opportunity and less fairness. Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few. On Tuesday night, I'm going to talk about how we'll get there."

In a December speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, which White House officials say was the thematic basis for his State of the Union address, Obama argued that the GOP favors "you're-on-your-own economics." On Saturday, he indicated that he will expand on that idea and offer a "blueprint for an American economy that's built to last." To that end, he will announce programs to encourage American manufacturing, including tax breaks for companies that bring jobs back to the United States from abroad, and initiatives to develop "clean" energy sources at home, provide more worker training, and improve the housing market, administration officials say. He will also call for congressional support for a year's extension of the payroll tax cut that is set to expire next month.

The day after his State of the Union address--his third since taking office in January 2009--Obama is scheduled to begin a three-day, five-state trip to sell his ideas in Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and Michigan.

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