Hello there, I’m June Simms! And this is As It Is, from VOA Learning English.
This year will be a busy year for politics in the United States. President Barack Obama will present his main policy goals to the country in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. Political campaigns will soon follow, with voters set to elect a new Congress in November. The results of those elections could have a major effect on the president, and on lawmakers from both major political parties.
Today Bob Doughty joins as we explore some of the issues the president is likely to discuss, and the effect these issues could have on the November elections.
Here is Bob Doughty.
Obama Set To Talk to the Nation
Tuesday night, President Obama gives his State of the Union speech to both houses of Congress. Tens of millions of people will watch the event on television. Political experts say the president can use the speech to help lift his public approval rating.
President Obama enjoyed a warm welcome before his State of the Union speech last year. His re-election victory was still fresh in people’s minds.
“There is much progress to report.”
But 2013 was a difficult year for the president. This was largely because of battles over the country’s health care reform law, known as The Affordable Care Act. The administration had problems launching the health care reform program. And troubles with the government’s health care website did little to help ease public concerns. Approval ratings for President Obama fell to new lows.
The latest national opinion survey found that 40 percent of those questioned approved of the job the president is doing. Fifty-four percent did not. Quinnipiac University carried out the study. Tim Malloy works with Quinnipiac. He says Mr. Obama received negative ratings on several important issues.
“The president remains in negative territory now on the economy, the federal budget as well as foreign policy. Registered voters in big numbers still give the president a ‘thumbs down’ on health care.”
Ratings for the Democratic and Republican parties have not been much better. Congressional Democrats saw their approval ratings drop because of the health care debate. Political experts say the lower ratings could have a major effect on the elections in November.
Stuart Rothenberg is an independent political commentator.
“The problem is, all these Democrats supported and in most cases voted for Obamacare and so they are stuck with this and to the extent to which the president is weakened, the voters tend to say, I am going to send a message to Barack Obama. He is not on the ballot in the midterm. The only way they can do that is to vote against Democrats.”
While the Democrats were blamed for problems with the health care law, many Americans blamed Republicans for forcing large parts of the federal government to close in October. The government was closed for 16 days. The shutdown shook the public’s faith in Washington’s ability to govern.
“This is not what the American people think is acceptable. They want us to try to solve problems and be practical, even if we can’t get everything done.”
Stuart Rothenberg says Republicans lawmakers remain on the defensive about that.
“The Republican brand is still terrible. People think the Republicans made a huge mistake shutting down the government and most Republican strategists will tell you they made a huge mistake.”
Obama Looks for a Political Revival in 2014
Political experts predict that Mr. Obama will use his State of the Union speech to call attention to economic issues in the United States. With the economy showing signs of improvement, they say, he will likely note the need to make economic success available to all Americans.
“In other words, we have got to make sure that this recovery leaves nobody behind and we have got a lot of work to do on that front.”
Mr. Obama may also talk about the issue of income inequality, and how best to narrow differences between the very rich and average Americans. Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution calls this, the “Two Americas” issue.
“How is the economy doing, and that is both jobs and growth and wages. But behind that is economic inequality and the ‘Two Americas’ issue.”
A recent study found that the earnings of the wealthiest one percent of the population rose 275 percent over the past 30 years. During this period, earnings for the 60 percent of Americans in the middle class rose by just under 40 percent.
Thomas Mann says Democrats hope that talk about the economy, especially economic fairness, will help their candidates in November.
Opposition Republicans say economic growth and creating jobs are also important goals for them.
Another one of their goals is limiting the size of the federal government. House Speaker John Boehner says slowing the growth of government social welfare programs is a Republican goal this year.
“Yet the president refuses, and Democrats refuse to discuss changes to those programs unless Republicans are willing to raise taxes. We are not going to raise taxes.”
Ron Bonjean is a Republican strategist. He develops and executes action plans for the Republican Party. He says the health care law will be a main target for Republicans this year.
“It is health care at this point. It is the incompetence going on within the Obama administration on how that is being handled.”
The State of the Union offers the president his best chance to set out a plan of action that includes domestic and foreign policy goals.
Political specialists say foreign policy issues could also affect the November elections. Two such issues are how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program and the continuing terrorist threat from extremist groups around the world.
All 435 seats in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will be at risk this year. Most political observers believe Republicans will keep or increase their control in the House. The real battle will be for control of the Senate. Democrats currently hold a majority in the Senate. But many of the 35 Senate races this year take place in states where Republicans have a good record.
Political expert John Fortier says second term presidents often have trouble regaining their political influence. This can limit their ability to get new laws passed in Congress.
“Usually presidents see their popularity ebb away a bit. They are often facing a Congress of the other party or at least part of the Congress, and so the president does not have the ability to work his agenda through the Congress as he did at the beginning of his first term.”
He says political battles leading up to the November elections could change things.
“The long term trend in midterm elections is they go against the president. I think the big question for Republicans is can they get enough seats to win the Senate?”
That is As It Is. I’m Bob Doughty. Thanks for spending time with us today.
And I’m June Simms. Have a question or comment about this show? We would love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com. World news is coming up on VOA at the top of the hour, Universal Time.
今年对美国政治人士来说将非常繁忙。总统巴拉克•奥巴马将在周二晚向全国发表国情咨文演说。政治竞选随之而来，选民将在 11 月选出新国会。这些选举结果将对总统和两大党派立法者产生重大影响。
但 2013 年对奥巴马来说是艰难的一年。这很大程度上是因为针对美国《平价医保法案》的争论。政府医保改革计划的开展存在困难，而政府医保网站的麻烦也对减轻公众担忧于事无补。奥巴马总统的支持率跌至新低。
最新的全国民意调查发现，40%受调查者认可奥巴马总统的工作，54%不认可。昆尼皮亚克大学进行了这项研究 。 Tim Malloy 在昆尼皮亚克大学工作。他说，奥巴马在一些重要问题上受到了负面评级。
民主党和共和党的支持率也没好太多。民主党国会议员看到他们的支持率因医保争论而下降。政治专家说，较低支持率对 11 月的选举有重大影响。
民主党因医保法案问题受到指责，而很多美国人也指责共和党在 10 月迫使大批联邦政府关门。政府停摆了 16 天。这次停摆打击了公众对华盛顿控制能力的信心。
奥巴马寻求在 2014 年政治复苏
奥巴马还会谈到收入不均问题以及缩小极富与普通美国人差距的好处。布鲁金斯学会的 Thomas Mann 称之为“两个美国”问题。
最近一项研究发现，最富 1%人口的收入在过去 30 年提高了 275%。与此同时，美国中产阶级的 60%人口的收入则仅增长不到 40%。
Thomas Mann 说，民主党人希望通过谈论经济，尤其是经济公平， 11 月帮助他在们的候选人。
Ron Bonjean 是一位共和党策略家。他为共和党制定和执行行动计划。他说，医保法案将是今年共和党的主要目标。
政治专家称，外交政策问题也会影响 11 月的选举。这类问题包括如何应对伊朗核问题，以及全世界极端主义组织持续不断的恐怖主义威胁。
共和党控制的众议院的 435 个席位今年将全部处于危机中。大部分政治观察者相信共和党将保持或提升在众议院的控制。真正的战斗在于参议院的控制。民主党人目前在参议院占多数。但今年 35 名参议员的竞选多数发生在共和党记录良好的州。
政治专家 John Fortier 说，第二任期的总统常面临重新获得政治影响力的问题。这会限制他们让法律获得国会批准的能力。
他说，直指 11 月选举的政治斗争会改变状况。