If Obama is casting himself as the hero, he also hopes to cast newly empowered congressional Republicans as the villains — multiple Sheriffs of Nottingham defending the rich and influential.
The White House wants President Obama to play the part of Robin Hood at Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
Obama hopes to use the big speech to remove a blemish of his presidency: an economic recovery that has left wage growth behind.
Free community college. A $175 billion tax cut for the middle class. Faster, cheaper broadband internet. A week of paid sick leave. Discounted mortgages.
Obama wants to move forward with all of these populist proposals for the poor and middle class, and he wants to do so by taking from the rich in the form of higher taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street.
Few of the proposals are going anywhere with a GOP Congress, but the White House sees Obama’s penultimate State of the Union as the president’s last, best chance to lay down policy markers for the next two years —and to frame the 2016 battle for the White House.
It’s also meant to ensure Obama remains relevant for as long into his presidency as possible.
“I think we should have a debate in this country between middle-class economics and trickle-down economics,” top aide Dan Pfeiffer said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“I think, in divided government, each side should lay out their agenda, what they think is in the best interest of the country,” he added.