The PJ Tatler

Earnest: GOP 'Welcome to Articulate' Views After State of the Union, But People Will Agree with Obama

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama will be “focusing on middle class economics” in his State of the Union address tonight.

“And what the president believes we should do is we can actually ask those at top of the income scale — and when I’m talking about the top, I’m talking about the very top. We’re talking about large Wall Street firms that are highly leveraged and those essentially who benefit from trust funds; we want to close the trust fund loophole and use that revenue to do the kind of things that are going to benefit the middle class families,” Earnest told CNN this morning.

“We want to do this because the president believes that our economy is best when it’s growing from the middle out. And by focusing on middle class economics, what we can do is we offer a $500 tax credit to working families where you have both Mom and Dad who are working a job. Well, we can offer a tax credit, because we know if both parents are working, there are going to be some extra costs associated with child care or with commuting.”

Earnest said Obama will also pitch “free community college to hard-working students who are getting good grades.”

“We know that never before has a college education been more important to making a — to getting a middle class job and leading a middle class life. So these are the kinds of policies that the president believes should be a priority and we’re hopeful that Democrats and Republicans will work together to advance this agenda,” he said.

Earnest said Republicans in Congress “will have to make a decision about what they think is more important — do they think that the trust-fund loophole is more important and that we should be ensuring that millionaires and billionaires are getting tax — special preferential tax benefits that middle class families don’t get?”

“Or do they think that more middle class families should have the opportunity to go to college? That’s really the question before them. And if they have a fundamental disagreement with the president, they’re welcome to articulate that view,” he added. “I just don’t happen to think that the vast majority of the American people are going to agree with them.”

He said that when Obama took office “we were on the precipice of a second great depression, but because this president worked, scratched, and clawed, essentially had to fight Republicans to put in place policies that are focused on the middle class, we actually have been able to dig out of this terrible economic downturn.”

“And actually our economy is starting to show the kind of resilience that indicates that we’re ready to turn the page.”

The Republican National Committee began the day with a preemptive strike against Obama’s address, sending out a “by the numbers” fact sheet that showed debt at $10.6 trillion when Obama took office in January 2009 and $18.1 trillion today.

“Without getting into too many of the specifics on policy, as chairman of the party, but I think that, sure, some loopholes can be closed. But the reality is is that none of that dinking and dunking is going to change anything about the trajectory of the economy, unless you take a serious look at the overall tax code, simplify it, do some fairly significant things to the code and do the types of things that Paul Ryan has been delivering to the Senate for the last five years,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told Fox this morning.

“Now they’ll have that chance as chairman of the ways and means in order to get the economy turned around. We’ve got a — the president’s going to try to tell people that Americans aren’t struggling and the economy’s great. We’ve got the worst labor participation rate since Jimmy Carter’s been president,” Priebus said.

“And so, he’s going to spend the night, tell people that the economy is great. He’s going to play a good round of small ball. He’s going to tell people that he’s for bipartisanship, while he kills things like they Keystone pipeline, the 40-hour work week… No one really thinks that the president’s going to follow through on anything that he says.”