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Earnest: Exec Amnesty Partly Why WH Feels ‘Momentum’ Going Into SOTU

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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that White House feels a “palpable sense of momentum” heading into the State of the Union and that the president’s executive action on immigration was one factor that contributed to this confidence on Monday’s “Now with Alex Wagner” on MSNBC.

“There’s a lot of excitement. There’s a little bounce in the step of people who, even though they’re working on a day they would otherwise have off, because there are a lot of interesting ideas that are going to be in this speech. There is this palpable sense of momentum around here, there’s a palpable sense of momentum because our economy, particularly in the past few months, has demonstrated tremendous strength and resilience, which we feel good about…the president’s approval rating is up nine points over a month ago. And we also feel a sense of momentum about the kinds of policy proposals we’ve been talking about over the last few months, that everything from making progress on climate change with China, to rolling out a set of bold executive actions to try to bring some accountability to our broken immigration system, to the announcement the president just made 10 days or so ago, that’s going to save new home buyers 900 bucks on their mortgage…the president’s looking forward to taking the biggest stage in American politics, where he’s speaking before the country, before the Congress, before whatever Supreme Court justices decide they’re going to show up, to lay out his vision for the future of the country” he stated.

Later, when asked about what this enthusiasm was based on given the pledged GOP opposition many of Obama’s proposals, he said “well, the president’s enthusiastic about laying out a vision for the country that he believes will move us forward, that’s where that enthusiasm comes. There is a lot of excitement about that. The chance to articulate where we want to take the country is a tremendous opportunity, and not that many people have it. We released this video online today where the president talked about how he wants to make the most of his final fourth quarter in office. A lot of important things happen in the fourth quarter, and the president’s certainly interested in making the most of that opportunity. And the question, you’re right Alex, will come before Republicans in Congress. They’ve spent the last four, really even the last six years being foursquare against anything that the president proposed, even if it meant opposing ideas that they had previously supported. Now that Republicans have a majority, a governing majority in both the House and the Senate they’re going to have to make a decision for themselves. They’re no longer the opposition party, they are in charge of something now, and the question is are they going to assume responsibility for actually governing the country?”

Earnest did not say whether the president had heard from any Republicans who are willing to support the president’s proposals, but added “there are a couple of things that are included in the tax proposal that we rolled out over the weekend, that are proposals taken from Republicans. One of the things that the president’s going to propose is an extra fee on highly leveraged Wall Street firms. This is an idea that was actually floated by the Republican Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee just last year. The proposal for raising the capital gains tax on the wealthy would actually be raising that rate to the level that it was under President Reagan,  so there are some clear ideas that have been strongly supported by Republicans in the past and the president wants to use them to invest in the kinds of things that benefit middle class families.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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