By Tray Wetherell
With President Obama’s approval rating above 50% for the first time in several months it appears that the president will be taking the opportunity in tonight’s state of the union speech to highlight the successes in the past year and emphasize a new effort for both Republicans and Democrats to work together in a spirit of bi-partisanship to help the nation continue its climb out of the recession, create jobs, and curb spending.
Speaking to the press Monday, press secretary Robert Gibbs answered questions relating to the upcoming speech. When asked about the president’s emphasis Gibbs replied “as he did in last year’s State of the Union and as he has in Tucson and the University of Michigan commencement speech — go through working together and the need to have a debate that is appropriate to the size of the challenges that we face from this country.”
Indeed, with Republican gains from the midterm elections and more recently the tragedy in Tucson, President Obama will continue to strike a tone of unity and goodwill that is struggling to stick in Washington even as the new Republican majority in the house led by newly elected tea party conservatives vote to curb spending without specifics and repeal the health care reform act of 2010.
To answer concerns over the ballooning budget deficit, the Associated Press reported Tuesday morning that an anonymous source within the White House said that the president will propose in the state of the union speech a 5 year freeze on all non-security discretionary related expenses. What “non-security discretionary related expenses” means exactly can be open for debate, but this concession indicates further that public opinion on the deficit weighs heavily on lawmakers minds on both the right and left.
In Congress, some Republicans and Democrats plan on sitting together in the chamber to show unity and try to curb the public perception that congress is at a standstill and cannot get anything done. “I don’t think anybody in this town or anybody in this country expects us not to wake up and still have some differences. That is why we have a democracy and why we have the system that we have. That’s not to say, though, that as we’re having some of those debates and discussions, that we can’t look at what unites rather than divides us and see if we can’t make some progress on that. “Gibbs replied when asked about the show of unity between Republicans and Democrats.
Republicans normally unified and in lock step with leadership will have two different responses when the president concludes his speech. Officially newly appointed chairman of the house budget committee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will deliver the Republican response from the capital. Rep. Ryan plans to speak on fiscal responsibility, good governance, and government oversight. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota will issue another response from the tea party movement. This response, while not unheard of and downplayed by the Republican leadership is certainly unusual in nature, reveals that there is more to be said about divides within the Republican Party. The response will be available live at www.theteapartyexpress.org.