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Obama's State of the Union Address to Focus on Economic Fair Play

President Barack Obama at a campaign event, at the Apollo Theater in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, January 19, 2012.
President Barack Obama at a campaign event, at the Apollo Theater in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, January 19, 2012.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress.  Obama provided a preview of the speech he will deliver in one of the most difficult economic and political environments any president has faced in decades.

The economy will be front and center as the president makes the trip to Capitol Hill to address a joint session of Congress.

Unemployment is falling, but not as quickly as Obama hoped.  This threatens his re-election chances.

But Congress has historically low approval ratings - polls show that more than 80 percent  of Americans disapprove of the job it is doing.

In speeches across the country, Obama has targeted what he calls congressional dysfunction.  

On Saturday, the president issued a video message previewing broad themes of what he calls his blueprint for America's economy.  He said it will be based on a speech he gave in Osawatomie, Kansas, last year in which he spoke about the importance of the middle class and fair play.

"I talked in Osawatomie about - this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and folks trying to work their way into the middle class," he said. "Because we can go in two directions.  One is toward less opportunity and less fairness.  Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few."

His preview did not contain the kind of fiery remarks he made last week about the political environment.

"It is going to take more than a few years to meet the challenges that were decades in the making," said the president. "The American people understand that.  What they don't understand is leaders who refuse to take action.  They are sick and tired of watching people who are supposed to represent them [but] put party ahead of country, or the next election before the next generation."

Obama said he will offer proposals to help U.S. manufacturing, boost the energy sector through alternative sources, and provide Americans with more education and training.

Obama is likely to use the State of the Union address to list key accomplishments: health-care reform, tightening controls on Wall Street, withdrawing troops from Iraq, setting the course toward a U.S. departure from Afghanistan, the killing of Osama bin Laden.

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