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If you were hoping to hear Obama announce plans to aggressively tackle climate change or promote green energy in this year’s State of the Union address, you’d better prepare yourself for disappointment. After a year of watching Congress refuse to take action on his 2013 agenda, insiders and political analysts expect President Obama to pursue a much more modest set of goals in the coming year.
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Rather than focusing on measures that require the support of Congressional Republicans, Obama will likely focus on executive actions he can undertake on his own. White House officials report the President will use the opportunity to discuss his plans to expand economic opportunities for middle-class workers through job training and retirement security. He’ll also use the opportunity to call for a higher minimum wage, greater infrastructure spending, and an expansion of prekindergarten education, although he’s unlikely to make any promises in those areas.
The only legislation Obama might touch on during the speech is an overhaul of immigration law — apparently the only issue both Democrats and Republicans agree should be a priority this year. Dan Pfeiffer, the President’s senior advisor, explained Obama’s reasoning in an email to supporters on Saturday, writing: “The president will seek out as many opportunities as possible to work with Congress in a bipartisan way. But when American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, he will not wait for Congress.”
Given this new, more cautious approach by the administration, it’s unclear exactly how much support environmentalists can expect from the president in the coming year. Groups like the Sierra Club are urging Obama to announce new, tougher plans to fight climate change and support green energy. Others hope Obama will use the opportunity to emphasize his commitment to protecting public lands by celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act. So far, environmental concerns haven’t been mentioned in the administration’s communications about the address.