State of the Union to foreshadow more cuts?

Lawmakers have turned to federal pay and benefits to cut spending, passing a two-year pay freeze and, now in the House, proposing a five-year pay freeze and 15 percent cut in the federal workforce.

Will President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday give any indication of further cuts to federal pay?

Although the country is experiencing an age of austerity, sources who are familiar with the president’s address said he will call for both budget cuts and spending that will increase the United States’ competitiveness, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Among the proposed spending measures will be a $1 billion drug research center to help create medicines. This effort was started because many drug makers are cutting back on research, The New York Times reports.


Republicans have warned, however, that they will oppose any new spending measures, The Times reports.

The Times quotes Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader, from Fox News Sunday, “With all due respect to our Democratic friends, any time they want to spend, they call it investment, so I think you will hear the president talk about investing a lot Tuesday night. This is not a time to be looking at pumping up government spending in very many areas.”

CNN Money reports that currently the United States spends 76 cents of every tax dollar on four items — social security, interest, Medicare and Medicaid. By 2020, 92 cents of every tax dollars will be spent on these four items.

CNN quotes Susan Irving, GAO’s director of federal budget analysis, saying, “Everybody wants a small government. Everybody would like low taxes. And they’d like government to do everything that they think government should do. But the arithmetic can be a problem.”

The State of the Union addresses of the past have historically included “public meditations on values,” assessments of the issues and policy recommendations, according to a November 2010 report by the Congressional Research Service. The speeches of past presidents have also included the theme of bipartisanship, CRS says.

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