Obama will start the new year with a focus on the federal budget and deficit

President Obama's State of the Union speech will focus on the budget and deficits, the White House said Thursday. 

Republicans successfully campaigned on those issues in the midterm election, where they took control of the lower chamber and added to their numbers in the Senate.

And their presence will be felt when the president addresses the joint session of Congress -- it'll be incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sitting behind Obama during the address, instead of outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).



Obama will deliver his second formal State of the Union address in late January after the Jan. 19 state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Gibbs made the statement on Twitter, where he was taking reader questions Thursday, in response to a question about whether Obama would push the recommendations from his fiscal commission during the State of the Union speech:


Yes - POTUS will use both SOTU & budget 2 talk about priorities & focus on our deficit/debt - team looking thru deficit comm recs 2 @mwfreel

Gibbs said the speech would come in late January:

Look for SOTU to be after visit by President Hu - late January @The_Future

The president stressed his ability to work with the GOP in his Wednesday press conference, where he was touting several legislative victories in the lame-duck session.

"I think it's safe to say this has been the most productive post-election period we have had in decades," he said. "We are not doomed to endless gridlock."

Obama has expressed interest in pursuing tax reform, a cornerstone of his fiscal commission's recommendations, with Congress next year, an idea in which leaders of both parties have expressed some interest.

The new GOP-controlled House will be hungry to make cuts, too, especially leading up to a debate in early March about government funding and whether to raise the debt ceiling. The continuing resolution to fund the government expires March 4.

As with the tax debate, the budget battle could provide Obama an opportunity to partner with Republicans in Congress and declare a bipartisan victory. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested Thursday morning that the relatively cooperative lame-duck Congress laid the groundwork for more bipartisanship early next year.

Gibbs also said Thursday an education reauthorization bill next year would provide an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation.

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