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• Obama speech a time machine for liberal dreams
• Baier Tracks: The state of the State of the Union
• Jeb courts K Street
• Koch group to host GOP Sixteeners
• Wait until Mayor McCheese hears about this
OBAMA’S SPEECH A TIME MACHINE FOR LIBERAL DREAMS
Not only will this package not pass a Republican Congress, it wouldn’t have passed a Democratic Congress. Some of the items actually already got rejected by Democrats and others he would never even have proposed for fear of forcing a difficult vote for Democrats. A tax on college savings funds? An increase in the death tax? Yikes! The headlines are delicious, but the proposals are all empty calories. Even after the president gives Republicans a black eye for blocking his Robin Hood act, there’s still not political nutrition here. As we have seen in other States of the Union, the enthusiasm of January produces a bitter autumn harvest when promised results do not materialize. But because Republicans will blockade the measures, the president feels at liberty to offer pie in the sky since no vulnerable Democrat will ever be forced to vote on the issue. Remember, these are not policies that have been broadly popular in his party.
[Watch Fox: Live coverage and analysis tonight of the president’s address and the GOP response starting at 8:55PM ET. Then Bret Baier will welcome House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan for his reaction to the president’s tax proposals. ]
Quickies - What on earth is the president going to say about national security? He can stretch out Cuba, but unless the ghost of Che Guevara is a special unannounced guest, that’s pretty small beer. As surveys show, Americans are increasingly worried about the threat from Islamist militants and terrorism. The president doesn’t have much good to say on that front. And the magnum opus of his foreign policy – a deal setting parameters for Iran’s nuclear program – is looking very shaky today with word of a new Russo-Iranian military pact. The president may look to make good for his no-show in Paris with a little français from the podium, but foreign policy references will be hard to come by.
[Watch Fox: 2016 GOP hopefuls Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will react to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight in a special 11 p.m. ET edition of “The Kelly File.”]
What liberals dream may come - While even the president’s staunchest defenders acknowledge that the president’s proposals are irrelevant from the perspective of governance, the hope on the left is that the economic policy will become a new litmus test for candidates of both parties and leave a lasting legacy for the president. John Cassidy captures the vibe, writing “Simply advocating tax cuts for the masses will reshape the politics of the next couple of years, and, particularly, the 2016 Presidential election.” How it would come to pass that this medium-bore version of the president’s ever-present economic policy would become the gold standard for both parties next year is a mystery not even Nero Wolfe could solve. But in order for the speech to be more than self-congratulation for the president, there’s got to be more than just hot air. The legacy bit will be ringing in the ears of every viewer of every establishment outlet.
[Every year - WashEx examines the proposed tax hikes President Obama has made to Congress every year since 2009.]
Baier Tracks: The state of the State of the Union… - “President Obama is clearly not acting like a man whose party suffered historic losses in a midterm election, and he hasn’t from the first day after the November blowout. Now, with an improving economy that he will attempt to take credit for, low gas prices that are helping fuel optimism and spending and at least one new poll putting him back up to 50 percent job approval he will, in his words, go ‘on offense’ against Republicans in Congress. That may cheer up his supporters after a painful 2014, but what we haven’t heard much about is where the president is willing to negotiate to advance key issues this year. Maybe this address will lay out his areas for potential compromise, but so far we’ve been left to wonder.
The president will likely spend a lot more time on domestic issues than on foreign policy -- barring, we expect, a significant chunk on his executive actions on Cuba. He is known for his preference for domestic issues over international ones, but there is another reason the president may stay focused on the domestic front. His foreign policy portfolio currently has a lot of holes in it, especially given growing public concerns about the rise of Islamist militancy around the globe and new concerns about terrorism. Recent polls show public approval for the president’s foreign policy lagging his overall performance by nearly 10 points.
State of the Union speeches are usually shopping lists for what a president is trying to pick up in the aisles of Congress’ policy superstore. But this president doesn’t have a lot of buying power. So what we may be seeing is his wish for what he hopes will be the political future for his party after he has left office. We’ll see.” – Bret Baier.
[Watch Fox: “Special Report with Bret Baier” will preview the president’s big speech, including an exclusive interview with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, tonight at 6 pm ET.]
Ernst’s big night - With Iowa Senator Joni Ernst set to deliver the GOP rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address, the Des Moines Register analyzes the makings of a good rebuttal and the three ways to assess her response including: what she says, how she says it and how it plays nationally as this will be the first glimpse of the freshman senator for most of America.
[Watch Fox: Fox News Correspondent William LaJeunesse examines promises President Obama has made during State of the Union speeches and whether those items on his political wish-lists have been met.]
House GOP beefs up real-time response - Check out the House Republicans’ live feed here with fact checks, responses and some behind-the-scenes moments. The accounts @SpeakerBoehner and @HouseGOP will also be in full effect. The House Republican Conference will follow that up with a radio blitz on Wednesday to discuss the address.
[What John told Joe - What was happening last year when House Speaker John Boehner was straightening out Vice President Joe Biden’sjacket and tie before the big speech? The speaker tells all.]
Upton calls for Obama to back medical technology - House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton can boast one of the few areas to have seen bipartisan breakthroughs in a gridlocked Washington. The 21st Century Cures initiative for spurring medical advances has been a hit on both sides of the aisle. Ahead of the speech, Upton and his Democratic counterpart Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., are calling on the president to make it part of his 2015 agenda.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Shubham Banerjee is not the average 13-year-old boy. The California teenage has joined the ranks of tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley with his invention, a low cost Braille printing device. Banerjee was researching online to figure out how blind people learn to read and discovered that most printers cost several thousand dollars, far too expensive for most users, especially in the developing world. “I just thought that price should not be there. I know that there is a simpler way to do this,” Banerjee said. He set to work to develop another device for a science fair project using a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit. His device began winning awards and garnering significant attention including a venture capital investment from tech giant Intel Corp. to launch his startup Braigo Labs. Lisa Maria Martinez, community director for the blind in San Francisco said, “I love the fact that a young person is thinking about a community that is often not thought about.” His second prototype has evolved from Legos with a similar look to the average desk top printer. This newer model can translate electronic text into Braille before printing.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.7 percent//Disapprove – 50.2 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 32.3 percent//Wrong Track – 58.2 percent
BUMPER CROP OF HILLARY FILES READY FOR HARVEST
Her campaign ratcheting up for a much anticipated March-April launch, Team Hillary has potential past problems to ponder, Politico reports: “A massive collection of documents related to Hillary Clinton’s policy work as first lady is set to go public this spring… more than 150,000 pages of records come largely from the files of Clinton’s policy advisers in her husband’s White House and cover topics such as welfare, equal pay, family leave, civil rights, race, poverty and health care reform. While many Clinton Library records have been released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the massive new batch was reviewed on the initiative of the library's professional archivists as part of what the National Archives calls ‘systematic processing.’”
[Flashback: It was on this day in 2007 that Hillary Clinton announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee that led to her 2008 bid for the White House: “I’m not just beginning a campaign…I’m beginning a conversation.”]
JEB COURTS K STREET CASH
Today former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is attending private meetings with K Street lobbyists, hosted by veteran GOP fundraiser and president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors Dirk Van Dongen, a big time Romney bundler in 2012. “Van Dongen, who also raised money for the presidential campaigns of Bush’s father and brother, praised Bush for emphasizing rebuilding the middle class as part of his early messaging, [USAToday reports] ‘I will do everything I can to help’ the former Florida governor,’ he said.”
Jeb’s ties to troubled Florida firm questioned - WaPo plumbs Jeb Bush’s corporate relationship with pre-fab housing company InnoVida to illustrate how the former governor’s business ties could affect his presidential aspirations.
MITT‘S PLAN: SHOW HE CARES ‘MUCH MORE BROADLY’
Fox News: “Mitt Romney provided some new insight Monday night into how a potential campaign would differ from his two previous attempts. The 2012 Republican nominee said one of the lessons he learned from that failed effort was the need to communicate to voters ‘who I am – not just through the policies I talk about but the places that I go and the audiences I speak to.’ Romney specifically identified a desire to personally address minority communities and younger audiences. ‘If you show up at businesses it looks like you’re a business person. If you show up at churches and at minority communities it shows you care much more broadly. And that’s something that I want to do.’…A Romney aide told Fox News that there are no imminent public events of the kind that would be expected from a person running for high office.”
“Look, Mitt Romney’s going to have to do something different in order to compel people and show that compassion that I see that inside him. He was prophetic on really foreign policy. And he was mocked by Barack Obama. I think the public has buyers’ remorse.” – Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, on “The Kelly File” Watch here.
Poll: Dip not bump for Mitt and Jeb - NBC News: “…[A]ccording to the newest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll….just over half of Republicans - 52 percent - give Romney a thumbs up, while 15 percent disagree….In September of last year, when Romney was widely expected NOT to seek the presidency again, his ratings stood at … 60 percent positive/ 13 percent negative. While former Florida governor Jeb Bush is not quite as well-known as Romney, with 13 percent of respondents saying they don’t know the name, he’s also seen a drop in approval since announcing that he's "actively exploring" a 2016 run. Just 19 percent of Americans now give Bush a positive rating, while 32 percent assess him negatively. His fans include just 37 percent of Republicans, while 15 percent offer a poor assessment of him.”
KOCH GROUP TO HOST GOP SIXTEENERS
Politico: “Four leading Republican presidential prospects are expected to appear this weekend in the California desert before an exclusive gathering of rich conservatives convened by the Koch brothers’ political operation, several sources tell POLITICO. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, received coveted invitations to speak to the vaunted network assembled by the billionaire industrialist mega-donors Charles and David Koch, the sources said. The meeting, set to be held at a Palm Springs hotel, is the annual winter gathering of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit group that oversees the network of fiscally conservative groups formed with help from the Kochs and their operatives. None of the White House prospects invited to the meeting this weekend responded to questions about whether they planned to attend and, if so, what they planned to discuss.”
[Cruz crowd takes shape - WashEx’s David Drucker has a comprehensive look at Sen. Ted Cruz’s latest staff moves as he gears up for a potential 2016 bid.]
Walker wants to stretch his legs overseas - In a move that would boost his foreign policy creds for a 2016 bid, Milwaukee Wisc. Journal Sentinel reports that Gov. Scott Walker [R-Wisc.] is likely to lead a trade delegation to Israel this year. “I haven’t got a date yet, but I’ve had multiple requests to go so we’ll probably try to find a way,” he said.
Christie courts hi-tech execs - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in Northern Virginia today to meet with high tech executives at a luncheon hosted by GOP donor Bobbie Kilberg.
Huck’s on the bookshelves - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy” is officially out today.
Fiorina headlines pro-life forum - Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and potential 2016 contender Carly Fiorina will be giving the keynote address at the Heritage Foundation’s Welcoming Every Life forum, one of several events leading up to this Thursday’s March for Life.
DEMS DRAW TOP CONTENDER TO TAKE ON KIRK
Chicago Tribune: “Rep. Tammy Duckworth, [D-Ill.] an Iraq War veteran beginning her second term in the House of Representatives, said Monday that she’s ready to explore the possibility of a challenge to Sen. Mark Kirk [R-Ill.] in 2016…‘I'm humbled by the encouragement that I’m receiving to run for the Senate,’ Duckworth said, ‘and I think it’s pretty clear that people are looking for a change, and I’m going to explore the possibility. I’m ready to really explore the possibility of a run.’ Duckworth said she has begun speaking to her husband and close advisers and aides about a possible Senate run. She said she still needed to have a discussion with officials at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, among other people.”
WAIT UNTIL MAYOR MCCHEESE HEARS ABOUT THIS
One Alabama man learned the hard way that you can’t always have it your way. Madison Turner left the McDonalds’ drive thru enjoying his Double Quarter Pounder when the officer pulled him over under Cobb County, Georgia’s distracted driving law. WSB reports the officer observed Turner for 2 miles and the official charge on the ticket reads “eating while driving.” He was willing to accept the possibility that he was, ahem, lovin’ it too much: “Maybe I was enjoying the burger too much I needed to tone it down. I was certainly willing to do so but I didn’t expect to be fined or punished.” Local attorney William Head, who is not representing Turner, said “There was no accident here so the fact that this man was charged with eating and driving is a first for me. Maybe if you had a giant pizza in both hands and you weren’t holding the wheel or maybe if you had a watermelon, half watermelon and you were just diving into it holding it with both hands, maybe that would be something.” Turner heads to court on February 3.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“If you look at [President Obama’s] proposal it is tax and spend, which of course today is revenue enhancements and investing, no one uses that. But it’s not at all tax reform, it’s in fact the exact opposite. It complicates the code with all kinds of little curlicues and handouts under certain conditions.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.