Obama to reward coalition in State of Union speech

President Obama is expecting to give a toned-down version of a victory speech at his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to press for issues favored by the coalition of women, youth and minorities that swept him to victory. Now that the election is over, health-care reform will continue to take shape, with the Obama administration more confident to speak openly about the changes.

By Greg Robb
Feb. 8, 2013, 1:21 p.m. EST
Market Watch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — President Barack Obama is expected to show some new-found swagger at his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to press for issues favored by the coalition of women, youth and minorities that swept him to victory in November.

In what is expected to be a toned-down version of a victory speech, business interests will be relegated to the sidelines, analysts said. Obama will address the Congress at 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

Industry victories and defeats, and the corresponding stock price moves, will be relegated to the vagaries of federal regulation, rather than Congress, experts said.

“This is the year of regulation, not legislation,” said Ethan Siegal, founder of the Washington Exchange, a firm that monitors Washington for Wall Street.

For instance, bank regulation is expected to plod along, with the same intense behind-the-scenes lobbying by industry and cautious regulators keeping progress an a glacial pace.

Health-care reform will continue to take shape, with the Obama administration more confident to speak openly about the changes now that the election is over.

Headlines will come soon from energy regulation, experts said.

The Environmental Protection Agency is likely to announce rules under the Clean Air Act to require reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, said Michael Greenstone, the director of the Hamilton Project, a division of the Brookings Institution that focuses on economic policy.

The president is expected to “spread the field,” talking about big issues like gun control and immigration to keep House Republicans off balance, Siegal said.

“It will be a fairly large laundry list, to talk to his base about items he’d like to accomplish,” Siegal said.

The goal will be to find something he can accomplish given the fact that he doesn’t control the House.

“His confidence can only take him so far, every time he wants to go the distance, he runs up against 218,” the number of votes needed to pass a bill in the House, Siegal said.

In most cases, there is little, if any, “middle ground” for compromise between House Republicans, Obama and congressional Democrats, Siegel said.

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