The Daily Fix: With His Legacy in Mind, Obama Will Tackle Income Inequality in State of the Union

All the news that’s fit to fix on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Jan. 16. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Jan 20, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Nicole Pasulka is a writer and reporter who lives in New York City. She has written for Mother Jones, BuzzFeed, The Believer, and the New York Observer.

Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. ET. The address is expected to describe the economic progress America has made since Obama took office in 2009 and the president's plans to leverage the healthier economy to fund social programs and reduce income inequality.

Some of the proposals Obama will present include his free community college plan, more paid family leave for new parents, and tax hikes for the wealthy that would pay for these programs and subsidize tax cuts for middle-class families. While the unemployment rate has decreased from 10 percent to 5.6 percent since Obama took office, 2.8 million Americans are still without jobs and labor force participation is down, according to NPR.

Around 30 million people will likely watch the address. Most Americans want the president to talk about domestic issues, though according to a poll by the Pew Research Center, one in five would like his speech to focus on foreign policy and thinks defending the United States against terrorism should be a top priority.

The president’s approval rating is at about 50 percent, the highest it's been in 18 months. This likely has to do with higher employment numbers, which Obama cited as proof of an economic “resurgence" earlier this month in Detroit.

“The improving economy is the backdrop for the speech and context for the economic debate over the next two years,” The New York Times reported Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s senior adviser, as saying Monday. “We have proof that President Obama’s strategy is working, and the Republicans now have a Chicken Little problem—all the doom and gloom they predicted did not come to pass.”

In other news…

Islamic State Holding Japanese Hostages: The Islamic State released a video demanding $200 million from the Japanese government in exchange for two hostages, Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yukawa. In the video a masked militant threatens to kill the Japanese captives unless the government pays the ransom. (via CNN)

Pope Takes On Family Planning: Speaking in the Philippines, Pope Francis addressed family planning and contraception. The pope opposed what he called “ideological colonization” of outside institutions seeking to regulate family size in the developing world, but said that even without contraception Catholics don’t have to breed “like rabbits.” (via The Associated Press)

More Suspects in Paris Massacre: Four men allegedly linked to the gunman who shot a police officer on the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre will appear before a judge in Paris on Tuesday. The men are accused of providing logistical support for the killing. (via The New York Times)

Bad Breed: In a federally funded animal breeding center in Nebraska, efforts to reengineer farm animals to produce more offspring and meat have resulted in weak and deformed offspring. “It’s horrible,” said one veterinarian at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center. (via The New York Times)

Bridge Collapse: A bridge being demolished in Cincinnati collapsed on Monday night and killed a construction worker. (via USA Today)

Protests in Honor of MLK: “Black lives matter” protests against police brutality took place across the United States on Monday as part of tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. Around 400 people blocked traffic in New York City, and 60 were arrested in the San Francisco Bay Area. (via Reuters)

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