President Obama will vow to "fight obstruction with action" in his State of the Union address tonight, signaling the extent to which he will use an unpopular Congress as foil as he campaigns for a new term this year.
"As long as I'm president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place," Obama is expected to say this evening, according to advance excerpts of the address provided by the White House.
Obama's speech is intended to serve as a bookend to the major speech he delivered in December in Kansas, where he said the American middle class is at a "make-or-break moment." Then, he invoked a Republican predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, in railing against growing income inequality.
Tonight, the president will say that hard-working Americans who "play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that does the same."
"It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody."
Obama will describe what he calls a blueprint for an American economy "that's built to last," based on four main themes: a focus on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and what Obama calls a "return to American values – of fairness for all, and responsibility from all."
In a message tailored to his reelection pitch, he'll contrast that vision with a recent history in which he said the economy was "weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits."
"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," he will say. "What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them."