White House on the offensive in final hours before State of the Union
President Barack Obama talks with Jon Favreau, Director of Speechwriting, in the Oval Office as they prepare the State of the Union address
January 24th, 2012
04:30 PM ET

White House on the offensive in final hours before State of the Union

WASHINGTON (CNN) –The White House is facing hostile fire from Republicans in the final hours leading up to the State of the Union address.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney accused the president of offering more “partisan planks for his election campaign.”

House Speaker John Boehner said the speech “sounds like we’re going to see a re-run of what we’ve heard over the last three years.”

Pushing back on the verbal attacks, a senior administration official told CNN the rhetoric from Republicans was “unfortunate and revealing.”

“After all, what is more political than criticizing a speech you haven’t even heard?” the official said.

Meanwhile the White House is pushing its own narrative, using a self produced all access video to show an engaged president and his team working on the speech and proposals aimed at helping middle class Americans.

“He really wanted us to focus on those types of economic policies that could have a tangible effect over these next few years,” said Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, in the White House produced video.

It’s a rare glimpse into how a State of the Union address goes from the first key strokes on a computer to a teleprompter read by the president.

And it’s the kind of access those who cover the White House would never be granted.

What was allowed turned out to be the only public glimpse of the president Tuesday. A small group of reporters were gathered to capture a short walk from the Oval office along the colonnade and Rose Garden.

Responding to a shouted question about the status of his speech, the president said, “May have a few touch-ups left.”

Then he declared his nearly finished speech, “not bad.”

Buffett’s secretary, young cancer survivor among State of the Union guests
January 24th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Buffett’s secretary, young cancer survivor among State of the Union guests

Washington (CNN) – Warren Buffett’s symbolically famous secretary and a young cancer survivor who has benefited from the new health care law are among the guests First Lady Michelle Obama will host at the State of the Union Tuesday night.

Debbie Bosanek, Buffett’s secretary for over 20 years who has become a symbol for proponents of tax reform, is among those who will get a primetime hat tip from the president, according to White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

Though not a household name, Obama has repeatedly trumpeted Bosanek as an example of tax inequality: though making significantly less money than her billionaire boss, she pays a higher percentage of taxes because her wages are derived from a salary while the majority of Buffett’s come from investments. Currently, investment income is taxed at 15 percent while ordinary income can be taxed as high as 35 percent. (CNNMoney: The economics behind the Buffett Rule)

Buffett himself has said this is unfair and the president will re-propose what the White House has called the “Buffett Rule” – a proposal that would raise taxes on certain wealthy individuals who derive their yearly income from capital gains and thus pay a far lower rate than many middle class workers. Obama first proposed the plan last fall but did not provide details on exactly how the tax code should be restructured to achieve his proposal.

Update: Full list of guests after the jump

Obama will challenge Congress in ambitious State of the Union
January 24th, 2012
08:20 AM ET

Obama will challenge Congress in ambitious State of the Union

Washington (CNN) - If history is any guide, President Obama will reach for the stars during his State of the Union address tonight. But in the end, reality will bring his plans back down to Earth.

Obama's "blueprint" for 2012 may run into similar partisan roadblocks that trimmed his lofty hopes for last year.

"There are absolutely things that remain undone that need to be done," White House spokesman Jay Carney admitted to reporters on Monday even as he touted a "fairly comprehensive list of proposals" that he believes the president has achieved.

Ambition is taking the fall for unfinished business.

"If you got through a year and you achieved everything on your list then you probably didn't aim high enough," Carney said.

Morning Briefing: January 24
January 24th, 2012
08:14 AM ET

Morning Briefing: January 24

The 1600 Report's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:

Yellin previews Obama’s State of the Union [CNN]

Romney, Gingrich paint different Obamas [WashPost]

The state of Obama’s mind is…[NYTimes]

Obama not making friends with Catholic left [WSJ]

Daniels on deck for the toughest rebuttal of the year [NYTimes]

Tuesday Reading: Romney’s tax returns [WashPost]; Newt’s Freddie contract [WashPost]

Romney benefits from debate silence [HuffPost]

Gingrich Super PAC gets another $5 mil [NYTimes]

POTUS' Day Ahead: The State of the Union is...
January 24th, 2012
07:18 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: The State of the Union is...

Good morning from the White House. It's that time of year again when the president fulfills his constitutional duty to brief Congress on the country's state of affairs. Of course, the Constitution does not say when, or how often, the president must do this but in modern history it has usually come at the end of January.

The White House pledges the president's speech will be a substantive proposal of a slew of new policies on job creation, education, taxes, and the economy. But White House officials also privately and publicly acknowledge that the coming year will be the hardest so far for the president to score serious legislative accomplishments.

Topics: Daily Schedule