Jan. 24 - U.S. President Obama framed an election-year State of the Union address in starkly populist terms by calling for sweeping tax reforms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Story: U.S. President Barack Obama framed an election-year State of the Union address Tuesday in starkly populist terms by calling for sweeping tax reforms to get rid of inequalities that allow the wealthy to pay a lower rate than middle-class Americans. He also underscored his record on foreign policy. "We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world," he said. "For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda's top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home. These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America's Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations." On the economy he said, "We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them." Obama's message could resonate in his campaign for re-election in November following the release of tax records by Mitt Romney, a potential Republican rival and one of the wealthiest men to ever run for the White House. Romney pays a lower effective tax rate than many top wage-earners. Taxes are the most divisive issue at the heart of this year's election campaign. Obama, seeking a second term despite a slow economic recovery and a high jobless rate, hopes to tap into middle-class voters' resentment against Wall Street while their families are hurting. Democrats have hammered Republicans in Congress for supporting tax breaks that favor the wealthy while Republicans staunchly oppose tax hikes, even on the richest Americans, arguing they would hurt a fragile economic recovery. But most of his proposals will face stiff Republican resistance, limiting the chance of any headway in a divided Congress before the Nov. 6 election.