Obama to focus on jobs, federal spending in speech

By Chris Rizo | Jan 27, 2010

Barack Obama (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)- Jobs and government spending are expected to be dominate themes in U.S. President Barack Obama's national address tonight.

In his State of the Union speech Wednesday night, Obama is expected to call for a freeze on non-security discretionary spending and push for job-creation initiatives aimed at helping the middle class.

Obama releases his proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 next Monday.

U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said Wednesday that he supports a three-year freeze on federal discretionary spending.

"I think it's important and I'll support it. But the president has to promise to veto bills that are laden with pork barrel spending," McCain was quoted by ABC's "Good Morning America" program as saying.

The spending freeze would net an estimated $250 billion in savings over 10 years, analysts said.

The thorny issue of Democrats' proposed national health care overhaul is also expected to be a part of Obama's message. The House and Senate plans have been criticized by many Republicans and business groups for not containing legal reforms, which analysts say would save American taxpayers billions of dollars.

In fact, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, has said as much as $54 billion could be saved over the next 10 years if Congress enacts legal reforms including a $250,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering and a $500,000 cap on punitive damages and restricting the statute of limitations on malpractice claims.

The Washington Post on Wednesday reported that Obama will also call for a 6.2 percent increase in education spending over last year. Fox News, citing an administration official, said Obama will call for the elimination of capital gains for small businesses.

The president's 9 p.m. EST address to Congress comes amid his lagging poll numbers a week after his party sustained a major political blow, when Republican Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate seat held for nearly four decades by liberal icon Edward Kennedy.

Once Brown is seated, Democrats will be stripped of their filibuster-proof 60-vote supermajority.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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