Don't Feel Like Watching The State Of The Union? Read This

Photo: REX USA.
Whether you’ve got plans or you’re just more in the mood to watch the new episode of Supernatural than President Barack Obama, don’t feel too guilty about skipping out on tonight’s State of the Union address — apparently, a near record-low number of Americans plan on tuning in to see the President’s annual speech. Good news: We pretty much know what he’s going to say, from the press releases and “preview speeches” he’s been giving all week.
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It'll go a lot like this: Obama will speak for about an hour, mostly about the middle class. Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner will sit behind him. Biden will clap at everything and make finger-guns. Boehner will look surly and sad. Michelle Obama will look radiant.
Beyond that, here are the five big things that are bound to happen tonight, just in case you have better things to do than watch (or better things to watch).
Photo: Patsy Lynch/REX USA.
Obama wants to make community college free, like high school.
In one of his teaser speeches, the president unveiled his “ambitious new plan” to make community college free — for (almost) everyone. It’s a pricey and controversial initiative that he’s expected to expand on tonight. The plan would cost about $60 billion over the course of 10 years, according to the White House, and would include approximately nine million students — specifically, those who go to classes “at least half time and maintain a grade-point average of 2.5 or better.”
It could massively boost the number of people who have access to college, and hugely reduce the burden of student loans. And, it’s really unlikely to get passed through the current, Republican-dominated Congress. Speaker Boehner already made a Taylor Swift GIF list to show how much he doesn’t like it. (Really.)
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Obama is using his tax plan to make Republicans look bad.
Obama rolled out the proposal for his new tax plan just a few days before the SOTU, and the core hallmarks of it are to raise taxes for the wealthy and, yes, cut them for the middle class. Obama wants to close the "trust-fund loophole," increase the top capital gains tax rate to 28%, and add a fee for questionable financial transactions — all of which is expected to rake in $320 billion in new revenues. He’ll take that money, if his plan passes, and use it to cut $175 billion in taxes for the middle class — and expand the tax savings for families with kids.
This one's also very unlikely to pass, since it involves raising taxes, which is antithetical to the current Republican Party. But, when the GOP votes against it, Democrats can use it to paint them as the party of the rich.
Obama is going to #humblebrag a lot about how good the economy is.
Obama will — and should — boast a bit about America’s current economic situation. Economic predictors like dramatically lowered gas prices are raising the morale and optimism of Americans everywhere, and the president’s approval ratings have gone up accordingly; they’re at 50% right now, which is the highest, per a Washington Post-ABC poll, since spring 2013. Surveyed Americans believe the economy is looking up, with 41% saying they view it on positive terms, while only 27% said as much back in October. Consumer confidence is also at its highest point since the recession of 2008.
The world is kind of a mess, but Obama’s got some plans to fix it.
Obama will most likely delve into additional detail about our changing relations with Cuba. He’s also expected to address his call to close the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, and to press lawmakers to omit obstructions to moving prisoners out of it. He could also address the fight against terrorist groups like ISIS; trade deals with Europe and Asia; climate-change discussions with China and India; nuclear negotiations with Iran; and immigration reform. There will almost certainly be a tribute to those who died in the Charlie Hebdo attack and a renewed call to fight terrorism.
The story of Alan Gross’ escape from Cuban prison is amazing.
Obama is expected to draw on the stories of everyday Americans to help drive home his points about inequality, and the economic struggles of the working and middle classes. There will reportedly be a long list of both “average Joes” and slightly more famous guests invited to sit with the First Lady tonight. One of those special attendees will be Alan Gross, the Maryland man who was freed from a Cuban prison as part of the administration's plan to normalize U.S. relations with the island nation (Obama will supposedly recount Gross’ story again tonight). Other expected guests by Michelle’s side? Captain Phillip C. Tingirides of the LAPD; Anthony Mendez, a Bronx student from the “Reach Higher” initiative; and LeDaya Epps, a laborer apprentice from Compton, California.
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