U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday at a time when the passage of any major legislation is unlikely.
Obama's job approval has dropped sharply on the botched rollout of his signature healthcare overhaul legislation, or Obamacare, and the U.S. labor participation rate is at a decades-long low nearly five years into the recovery from the worst recession in decades.
Moreover, Obama's poor relations with Republicans in Congress make unlikely the passage of any second-term legislation, with some experts pinning the blame on the White House and others saying Republicans are hesitant to work with Obama for fear of ticking off their conservative base.
As such, the speech will mark the start of a White House race to pass any legislation it can in the lead-up to the 2014 midterm Congressional elections, which are expected to go poorly for Democrats, Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.
The president will use the address to ignite his Democratic base, O'Connell said, and experts expect a potpourri of agenda items such as raising the minimum wage, with the president highlighting the country's growing income inequality in a bid to help those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
The address will be followed by trips to Nashville, Milwaukee, Maryland and Pittsburgh to garner support for this year's agenda, with the president later expected to outline new proposals to help the long-term unemployed -- those without jobs for longer than 27 weeks, the White House said.