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Obama Takes on Economy in State of the Union

AP | 1/24/2012, 9:48 a.m.

Aides said the president would also outline more specifics about the so-called "Buffett Rule", which Obama has previously said would establish a minimum tax on people making $1 million or more in income. The rule was named after billionaire Warren Buffett, who has said it is unfair that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said on Twitter Tuesday that Buffett's secretary, Debbie Bosanek, would attend the State of the Union in the first lady's box.

For three days following his speech, Obama will promote his ideas in five states key to his re-election bid. On Wednesday he'll visit Iowa and Arizona to promote ideas to boost American manufacturing; on Thursday in Nevada and Colorado he'll discuss energy; and in Michigan Friday he'll talk about college affordability, education and training. Polling shows Americans are divided about Obama's overall job performance but unsatisfied with his handling of the economy.

The lines of argument between Obama and his rivals are already stark, with America's economic insecurity and the role of government at the center.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, said that Obama "can't run on his record."

The president has offered signals about his speech, telling campaign supporters he wants an economy "that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few." Gingrich, on the other hand, calls Obama "the most effective food stamp president in history." Romney says Obama "wants to turn America into a European-style entitlement society."

Obama will make bipartisan overtures to lawmakers but will leave little doubt he will act without their help when it's necessary and possible, an approach his aides say has let him stay on offense.

The public is more concerned about domestic troubles over foreign policy than at any other time in the past 15 years, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. Some 81 percent want Obama to focus his speech on domestic affairs, not foreign ones; just five years ago, the view was evenly split.

On the day before Obama's speech, his campaign released a short Web ad showing monthly job losses during the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration, with positive job growth for nearly two Obama years. Republicans assail him for failing to achieve a lot more.

House Speaker John Boehner, responding to reports of Obama's speech themes, said it was a rehash of unhelpful policies. "It's pathetic," he said.

Presidential spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that Obama is not conceding the next 10 months to "campaigning alone" when people need economic help. On the goals of helping people get a fair shot, Carney said, "There's ample room within those boundaries for bipartisan cooperation and for getting this done."