Chad’s Morning Brief: Obama to Deliver the State of the Union Tonight, Ted Cruz Appealing to Conservative Voters, and Other Top Stories
Here is today's Morning Brief for January 20, 2015.
State of the Union
President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address tonight and according to FOX News, the President will call for higher taxes and more spending.
From calls for more infrastructure spending to a free community college push to another tax hike scheme, the highlight reel from President Obama's looming State of the Union address shows him charging into his final two years in office with little heed for the results of the midterms.
The Republican takeover of the Senate last November -- and the party's historic gains in the House -- for a short time fueled speculation that the president might entertain a more conciliatory approach with Congress.
But within weeks, the president announced sweeping changes to immigration policy via executive action. Then, he vowed to veto a slew of bills from the new Congress, including one to undo those executive actions. And now, his State of the Union address leaves little doubt that Obama, as he told Senate Democrats last week, plans to play "offense" against the GOP-led Congress.
The latest plank of his 2015 agenda was unveiled Saturday night, and calls for more than $300 billion in new tax increases over the next 10 years, to pay for middle class tax credits and his community college plan, among other programs.
Already, Republicans are describing the plan as a "non-starter" with the new Congress.
"More Washington tax hikes and spending is the same, old top-down approach we've come to expect from President Obama that hasn't worked," Michel Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
Don Stewart, deputy chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ripped the president's plan and renewed calls to overhaul to whole tax system. "Republicans believe we should simplify America's outdated tax code; that tax filing should be easier for you, not just those with fancy accountants; and that tax reform should create jobs for families, not the IRS," he said in a statement.
The president, unlike past years, has previewed many elements of his State of the Union address in the run-up to the speech. Some, like the tax plan, have already attracted Republican ire.
Tax hikes, to pay for tax cuts: The centerpiece of the president's tax proposal is an increase in the capital gains rate on couples making more than $500,000 per year to 28 percent, the same level as under President Ronald Reagan. The top capital gains rate has already been raised from 15 percent to 23.8 percent during Obama's presidency.
Obama also wants to close what the administration is calling the "trust fund loophole," a change that would require estates to pay capital gains taxes on securities at the time they're inherited. Officials said the overwhelming impact of the change would be on the top 1 percent of income earners.
Administration officials pointed to a third proposal from the president as one they hope Republicans would support: a fee on the roughly 100 U.S. financial firms with assets of more than $50 billion. Raising the capital gains rate, ending the inheritance loophole and tacking a fee on financial firms would generate $320 billion in revenue over a decade, according to administration estimates.
Obama wants to put the bulk of that money into a series of measures aimed at helping middle-class Americans. This would include expanding the child care tax credit, offering up to $3,000 per child for families making up to $120,000 a year. And it would include a new $500 credit to "second earners" in a family, to help a spouse pay for additional costs entailed when both spouses work -- like child care.
Free community college: The president wants to offer two years of free community college to students who can keep a 2.5 GPA. The White House estimates the program would cost the federal government roughly $60 billion over 10 years.
The White House wants the federal government covering three-quarters of tuition costs, and states picking up the rest.
Workplace leave: Obama is urging Congress and local governments to back measures allowing workers to earn up to a week of paid sick time a year. As part of this effort, he wants Congress to approve more than $2 billion in new spending to encourage states to create paid family and medical leave programs.
In addition, Obama will take steps to provide federal employees with up to six weeks of paid sick leave to care for a new child. And he'll propose that Congress pass legislation to give federal workers an additional six weeks of paid parental leave.
Infrastructure: The administration is proposing to create a new municipal bond for public-private partnerships.
While the American people voted for new leadership, it clearly hasn't made an impact. Remember also that is the State of the Union. It's a time where the President can lay out his wishlist of items and know that he won't get most of them.
Cruz Goes After Conservative Voters
According to the Daily Caller, Senator Ted Cruz attempted to win over conservative voters on the weekend. Cruz warned voters that if Republicans nominated a moderate in 2016, they would lose.
Speaking to tea partiers in South Carolina over the weekend, Cruz cautioned that Republicans will lose the White House in 2016 if the nominee is insufficiently conservative.
“If we nominate a candidate in that mold, the same people who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 will stay home in 2016 and the Democrats will win again,” Cruz told the crowd.
His comments come as the Texas senator — probably best known for the 21 hours and 19 minutes he railed against Obamacare on the Senate floor in 2013 — is traveling to early primary and caucus states and making it clear he’s serious about a bid for the White House.
“I can tell you,” Cruz said on “Fox and Friends” last week of a possible presidential bid, “I’ve been receiving a lot of encouragement, a lot of support, and I’m looking at it very seriously.”
Behind the scenes, Cruz’s political network is preparing for a possible campaign. Speaking to The Daily Caller, one Cruz insider described recent efforts to reach out to donors and early state activists, interview potential staff and map out electoral strategies so if Cruz “makes that decision to go run, then we’re ready to flip the switch and start pressing forward.”
“We’re waiting on him to make that final decision,” the insider said.
Cruz has said publicly he expects the field of Republican contenders to form sometime between January and June, suggesting that is his timeframe for making an announcement.
This weekend, Cruz is set to address activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines. The event — which will feature a number of other Republicans thinking about running for president, including Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Ben Carson — is the first so-called cattle call of the 2016 Republican presidential race.
I don't know that only a true conservative could win in 2016, but I do know that if Republicans stay home, it won't be good. And to those who stayed home because Mitt Romney wasn't conservative enough... you are part of the problem.
Other Must Read Links:
These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard on our KFYO YouTube page after the show and online at kfyo.com.