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State of the Union: A viewer's guide
The pundits' best predictions of what Obama will be saying in his pivotal State of the Union address tonight
 

Political observers of all stripes are describing Obama's State of the Union address this evening as a make-or-break moment for his presidency. In the wake of a crushing defeat for his party in the Massachusetts Senate race last week, will he strike a conciliatory across-the-aisle tone, as Bill Clinton did in 1995 after Democrats lost control of Congress — or will he come out swinging as a hard-hitting populist, as many of his supporters on the left are urging? The tone will remain a mystery until 8 p.m. tonight, but here's what pundits believe will be the substance of the speech:

1. He'll offer a plan to create jobs, jobs, jobs:
With unemployment at 10 percent, job creation is expected to be the centerpiece of Obama's speech. He will focus on hiring by small businesses, pushing tax cuts languishing in Congress. (The Wall Street Journal)

2. Expect a sales pitch for that new "spending freeze" liberals hate so much:
Many Democrats and liberals hate it, but Obama will promote his three-year freeze in non-defense discretionary spending. The marker-in-the-sand freeze would save $250 billion by 2020. (The New York Times)

3. He'll reveal the Dems' next move on health reform:
Obama is almost certain to talk about his flagging health care overhaul, but nobody's sure whether he'll push for a new approach or sell the bill that's almost made it through Congress, likely as an economic imperative. (Reuters)

4. Tax cuts are on the way for America's struggling middle class:
Help for the middle class is always a political winner, and Obama will promote a series of expanded tax credits for child care, elderly care, and retirement saving, and new caps on college loan payment. (ABC News)

5. Obama will hit big banks with the new "Volker Rule":
Obama will tout the "Volker Rule" designed to curb too-big-to-fail banks and keep them from hurting their customers — and taxpayers — with speculative investments. A win for ex-Fed Chairman Paul Volker. (The Washington Post)

6. Education spending and reform will get a big plug:
Obama will push for a spending increase of up to $4 billion on K-12 education, as part of his education reform agenda. His "Race to the Top" initiative and a revamp of "No Child Left Behind" will take center stage. (The Washington Post)

7. Look for tough talk on bioterrorism:
Obama is sure to talk terrorism, specifically new policies on preventing and reacting to bioterrorism. The plans include ensuring that there are quick, effective, and inexpensive antidotes for biomedical emergencies nationwide. (AP, via BusinessWeek)

8. Immigration reform makes a cameo:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says Obama will push immigration reform, but maybe not in detail. If Congress can compile "a coalition to get the way forward," he says, "then it's something we'll work through." (USA Today)

9. Foreign policy will take a back seat to domestic concerns:
The State of the Union will be dominated by domestic issues — the economy, jobs — but look for Obama to mention the war in Afghanistan, Iran's nukes, and America's improved global reputation. (Reuters)

10. The long-awaited repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? Maybe:
Sen. Carl Levin raised the hopes of gay rights groups by suggesting that Obama will address the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military. White House officials say DADT may not make the final draft. (The Hill, CBS News)

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