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Obama's State of the Union speech to be Feb. 12, as more 'fiscal cliffs' loom

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With three more “fiscal cliffs” in the immediate future – the debt ceiling that will be reached right around the State of the Union, deep spending cuts known as the sequester, and the expiration of federal spending authority – bipartisanship may be just a dream.

But what’s certain is that Mr. Obama’s inaugural address and then SOTU will provide clues to his approach to those issues, plus the other items on his agenda, including gun violence, immigration reform, tax reform, and energy.

When asked earlier this week how the two speeches would differ, White House press secretary Jay Carney was circumspect.

“I think that these are different occasions that have historically sort of demanded different types of addresses,” Mr. Carney said. “But as you know, the president takes the writing of these speeches quite seriously, and I would not preview or prejudge the outcome of that process.”

Typically, an inaugural address is meant to be more soaring and uplifting, while SOTU tends toward a laundry list. SOTU also contains more potential for partisan drama. In his 2010 SOTU, Obama attacked the US Supreme Court for its Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to corporate and union money on behalf of campaigns. Some justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, were not amused.

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