Rob Horowitz: State of the Union: Obama’s Chance to Set the Agenda
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
While State of the Union Addresses receive saturation media coverage, a review by Gallup of the past 5 Presidents shows, with few exceptions, little change in approval ratings as a result of the speech. President Obama is no exception to this general rule, with little or no movement in his approval ratings after his previous State of the Union speeches Given plentiful other viewing options, ratings for the State of the Union have also declined. Only about 34 million people watched President Obama deliver the State of the Union Address last year and audience size usually shrinks the longer a president is in office.
Wind at His Back
Still, tonight’s State of the Union Address, gives President Obama an opportunity to set the public agenda and make the case for his priorities—to focus the public on what issues are most important to address. Research shows that on this important goal, State of the Union addresses can have lasting impacts.
And in focusing on expanding opportunity and reducing inequality, as advance previews by members of his Administration indicate he will do, President Obama will have the wind at his back. More than 6 in 10 Americans, including a majority of Republicans, say that the “gap between the rich and everyone else has increased in the last 10 years,” according to a recent Pew Research Center and USA TODAY poll. The same poll shows that nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe that government should do something to close this gap, and this includes more than 4 in 10 Republicans.
The recent Republican response on the question of increasing inequality is telling. Instead of simply crying class warfare or emphasizing the importance of not punishing ‘job creators’ as they have in the past, they are adopting a new tact, attacking Obama for making the problem of inequality worse and beginning to come forward with their own policies to address the issue.
Given partisan gridlock in Congress, President Obama is going to focus some of the speech on the actions he will take through Executive Orders. His increased and understandable emphasis on unilateral executive action is highlighted by his appointment of John Podesta, who devised and implemented this strategy as Chief of Staff to President Clinton and has publicly advocated that Obama adopt this approach, as a White House Counselor.
There also may be some room opening up for legislative accomplishments. The recent budget agreement signals the increased power of Speaker Boehner(R-OH) and his leadership team who are more open to compromise and the declining influence of the more hard line Tea Party members. One strong possibility is a compromise agreement on immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came here as children and legal status to those who came here as adults.
Despite a difficult 2013 with few legislative accomplishments and a disastrous initial roll out of Obamacare, President Obama’s approval rating has rebounded to 46% in a recent Washington Post Poll.
The American people still personally like him and are still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt He is also going to reap some political benefit this year from an improving economy. . Tonight’s State of the Union will focus needed attention on his goals for this year to an audience that will be certainly smaller, but mainly still willing to listen. I urge everyone to watch.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
Related Slideshow: 13 Best MINDSETTER™ Columns of 2013
By John Hazen White
Demand for table games at Twin River casino has prompted the Lottery Commission to grant the facility additional gaming tables, and the state’s take from the combination of video slot machines and table games is going up each month as a direct result of the tables in place.
The 14 new tables to be added will make for a grand total of 80. More gaming tables will surely be added down the road.
I suppose we should all be cheering about this because of the enhanced revenue stream the state will enjoy, which it desperately needs, but it begs a larger and more troubling question: what will happen to Twin River – and more importantly to the state – when Massachusetts’ three casinos and its single racino slot parlor come on line?
By Rob Horowitz
A leaked draft of a major report expected to be released in the Fall by the International Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), an international group of scientists under the auspices of the United Nations, landed on the front page of The New York Times last week. The report, a comprehensive and consensus analysis of the latest scientific research on climate change, finds that if greenhouse gas emissions continue apace a sea level rise of as much as 100 feet by the end of the century is a real possibility. It characterizes the assertion that human activity is the cause of most of global warming as a “near certainty.”
By Don Roach
I’m struggling to make sense of the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case as I’m sure many people are. I have a number of gut reactions at war with my respect of the justice system. And it’s a battle. So, what I decided to do Sunday was investigate as much of the public facts as possible in order to piece together why in the world a 17-year-old boy is dead.
By Julia Steiny
Back in the 1990s, circumstances so maddened Dr. Matthias Felleisen, he felt forced to create Program by Design (PxD) to bring life back to computer science and algebra, both. Since then, thousands of students have used it to learn the elements of programming, with or without a teacher. Even I could understand its free, online textbook. The PxD target audience were first-year college students, but Felleisen's team wanted it to be accessible to clever 10-year-olds. The NSF and other major funders continue to be impressed.
By Lisa Blais
While the beat goes on across Rhode Island to trumpet information about HealthSourceRI, the health insurance exchange created as a result of Governor Chafee’s Executive Order in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the AFL-CIO has been pleading with the Obama Administration to waive some requirements of the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, for members of their multi-employer health and welfare plans.
By Gary Sasse
In the late 1960’s when I was in graduate school many of my classmates sought careers in government and not on Wall Street. They believed that public service could make a difference in the lives of Americans. This positive view that government was part of the solution has been replaced by a more cynical view of government at all levels. This should not be surprising because too many times government has been ineffective in providing essential public services. Earlier this year the Pew Center for the People and the Press found that “trust in the federal government remains mired near an historic low and frustration with government remains high.”
By Donna Perry
Governor Chafee’s State of the State blueprint is not yet 24 hours old and so the reactions and assessments of it are still pouring in. However, before the battles begin over spending, borrowing, cuts, labor provisions, and whether or not there will be any meaningful changes to spur economic development, both the Governor and General Assembly members should pause, take a deep breath, and consider a proposal from a wise and truly independent voice in the State Senate.
By Russell Moore
Gina Raimondo was all about transparency—during her first year in office. Apparently, sunlight was so 2011. The General Treasurer, who admirably took up the fight for pension reform after her predecessor—Frank Caprio—lost his campaign for governor thanks to his leadership on the issue, named her report describing the need for pension reform “Truth in Numbers”. It was a brilliant move, as she successfully separated the issue from emotional politics over the promises made to retirees that the state couldn’t keep.
By Aaron Renn
The city of Providence is a very diverse place. In fact, it’s over 62% minority, making it a so-called “minority majority” city. However, the city of Providence is only a very small part of the overall state and region. ￼
Metropolitan Providence is one of the whitest major regions in America. Looking at metro areas with more than one million people, Providence ranks third in the country for the total non-minority population. The percentage of the population that is “white only, non-hispanic” – Hispanic people can be of any race – is nearly 80%. Only Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are higher.
By Carol Ann Costa
In less than a month since Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerged as Francis the 1st , this new Pope has through his decisions and actions gained my full attention and respect. What he has shown us is that you rarely go wrong when you return to your mission. Perhaps Francis’ undeniable devotion to the works of Mercy, both corporal and spiritual, can provide a teachable moment for each of us— and our politicians in particular.
By Aaron Regunberg
Want Better Schools? Stop Making Educators Miserable.
The Metlife Survey of the American Teacher recently released a report from their 2012 investigation into the state of U.S. educators. The annual survey, which was conducted among 1,000 K-12 public school teachers and 500 K-12 public school principals, offers an invaluable snapshot of the condition of those professionals to whom we entrust the educating of our nation’s youth. This year’s results continue a disturbing—and an escalating—trend that should have all of us seriously reconsidering what kinds of strategies will actually, positively reform our education system.
By Andrew Gobeil
"The television business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
The quote above is often attributed to Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who frequently denied he was a journalist at all. Whether or not he said it isn’t necessarily the point; whether or not it was said to describe the television business, or music business, or radio business isn’t necessarily the point either. Hell, you could be nodding in affirmation as you read it at your desk in the finance world, or the world of politics or sales or law or….well, now you do get the point.
By Travis Rowley
In the midst of the ongoing debate over the 2nd Amendment, I discovered lessons to be learned from the events in Boston this week.
Let me start with this: Owning a gun is not a natural right. After all, how can a firearm be a natural right if man had to invent and manufacture it?
But the right to defend oneself is a natural right...
- Rob Horowitz: At Last: A National Budget Agreement
- Rob Horowitz: Government Shutdown A Disaster for House Republicans
- Rob Horowitz: Speaker Boehner Joins the Shutdown and Default Caucus
- Rob Horowitz: Campaign To Strangle Obamacare In Its Crib Will Fail
- Rob Horowitz: House Republicans Hold Debt Ceiling Hostage—Again
- Rob Horowitz: States Stepping Up On Climate Change
- Rob Horowitz: Chafee Takes Himself Out of the Game Too Soon
- Rob Horowitz: It’s Time to End the Cuban Trade Embargo
- Rob Horowitz: The War On Poverty, 50 Years Later
- Rob Horowitz: Chris Christie’s Big Moment Is Coming Soon
- Rob Horowitz: Kennedy: A Vision of What We Can Do Together
- Rob Horowitz: Time To Find Common Ground, Congress
- Horowitz: New Generation of Latinos Fit Familiar Immigrant Pattern
- Rob Horowitz: Climate Change On the Table… Finally!
- Rob Horowitz: King, Obama + Citizen Activism
- Rob Horowitz: Trust in Media Near an All Time Low
- Horowitz: Restore Unemployment Benefits to Long-Term Unemployed
- Rob Horowitz: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Is Back
- Rob Horowitz: Newtown- One Year Later
- Rob Horowitz: 5 More Reasons for New Year’s Optimism
- Rob Horowitz: Finally, Some Common-Sense Drug Sentencing
- Rob Horowitz: Obamacare—Hold the Shovels
- Rob Horowitz: A Teaching Lesson at Brown
- Rob Horowitz: Food Stamps Are the Wrong Political Football
- Rob Horowitz: Rhode Island’s Self-Esteem Campaign Needs More Money