THE RESET: Obama on deck for 2nd big speech in row

AP News
Posted: Feb 08, 2013 12:00 PM
THE RESET: Obama on deck for 2nd big speech in row

Re-elected presidents and their speechwriters often have a verbal overload problem at the outset of second terms: They must produce a State of the Union address just weeks after a second inaugural address.

It's hard to be lofty, eloquent and soaring twice in a row.

After he delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama will also face logistical problems not usually confronted by re-elected presidents.

While inaugurals tend to be inspirational, aspirational but somewhat vague, a president's diagnosis of the nation's health usually packages a sweeping catalogue of goals with a laundry list of proposed new and recycled legislation — to be fleshed out in the annual budget he sends to Congress a week or two later.

This year the schedule was turned topsy-turvy by Obama's postponing his budget submission to sometime in March — putting it well after a March 1 deadline for deep mandatory government spending cuts. If those "sequester" cuts occur on schedule, they will have a direct bearing on the president's budget.

"I want to keep my remarks short because I just made a pretty long speech a couple of weeks ago, and I'm about to make another next week, and I don't want you guys tired of me," Obama joked at a House Democratic retreat Thursday before answering questions behind closed doors.

First he offered a short preview of next week's speech: job creation, education, clean energy and, "yes, deficits and taxes and sequesters and potential government shutdowns and debt ceiling — we'll talk about that stuff."

Obama has proposed a small package of spending cuts and tax increases to delay the March 1 sequester cuts. So far, Republicans have rejected the plan, even though House Speaker John Boehner likens the threatened cuts to "taking a meat ax to our government."

Opposition parties often call presidential budgets "dead on arrival." This year, Republicans suggest it's ailing even before birth.


Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: