President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday night, looking to seize the opportunity to define his second-term agenda. It has been reported that the president will call for a renewed focus on job creation. But with a divided Congress, the prospects appear dim for bold legislation.
Of more immediate concern are the looming, automatic budget cuts set to take effect March 1. During his weekly address Saturday, Obama said that if the so-called sequester is allowed to go forward, "thousands of Americans who work in fields like national security, education or clean energy are likely to be laid off." He said the sequester could deliver a "huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole."
Obama has called on Congress to delay the sequester for at least a few months to provide more time for a longer-term, more far-reaching, deficit-cutting budget solution.
Economic policy will also be in the spotlight Wednesday when the Senate Finance Committee takes up the nomination of Jack Lew to become the next secretary of the Treasury. The New York Times has reported that Lew will be quizzed about a previously disclosed $56,000 investment he made in a venture capital fund based in the Cayman Islands. He has since sold the investment, reportedly at a loss.