Obama's State of the Union speech to be Feb. 12, as more 'fiscal cliffs' loom

House Speaker John Boehner issued the formal invitation to President Obama on Friday for the State of the Union address, expressing a hope for cooperation in the new year.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Barack Obama listens in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Mon., where he announced that he is nominating Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan, center, as the new CIA director; and former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, right, as the new defense secretary.

President Obama’s second inaugural address on Jan. 21 isn’t the only big speech coming up. He will also deliver his fourth State of the Union (SOTU) address before a joint session of Congress on Feb. 12.

House Speaker John Boehner (R) issued the formal invitation Friday, expressing a hope for cooperation in the new year.

“Our nation continues to face immense challenges, and the American people expect us to work together in the new year to find meaningful solutions,” Speaker Boehner wrote. “This will require a willingness to seek common ground as well as presidential leadership. For that reason, the Congress and the Nation would welcome an opportunity to hear your plan and specific solutions for addressing America’s great challenges. Therefore, it is my privilege to invite you to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on February 12, 2013 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building.”

With three more “fiscal cliffs” in the immediate future – the debt ceiling that will be reached right around the State of the Union, deep spending cuts known as the sequester, and the expiration of federal spending authority – bipartisanship may be just a dream.

But what’s certain is that Mr. Obama’s inaugural address and then SOTU will provide clues to his approach to those issues, plus the other items on his agenda, including gun violence, immigration reform, tax reform, and energy.

When asked earlier this week how the two speeches would differ, White House press secretary Jay Carney was circumspect.

“I think that these are different occasions that have historically sort of demanded different types of addresses,” Mr. Carney said. “But as you know, the president takes the writing of these speeches quite seriously, and I would not preview or prejudge the outcome of that process.”

Typically, an inaugural address is meant to be more soaring and uplifting, while SOTU tends toward a laundry list. SOTU also contains more potential for partisan drama. In his 2010 SOTU, Obama attacked the US Supreme Court for its Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to corporate and union money on behalf of campaigns. Some justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, were not amused.

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