Obama, Democrats at odds before State of the Union address

Obama, Democrats at odds before State of the Union address–7jh., b12

Reaction to Obama’s legislative priorities has always been a largely partisan affair, with Democrats traditionally praising his policy prescriptions and Republicans railing against a president they’ve long accused of being out of touch.

In few forums is the divide more evident than during the State of the Union, where the response in the House chamber typically cuts along party lines.

But recent clashes between liberals and the White House over high-profile issues as diverse as trade, Iran sanctions and deportations invite a different dynamic to this year’s speech, where Obama is expected to defend those policies as part of a concerted push to wrap up loose ends and burnish his legacy in the twilight of his presidency.

A former Democratic leadership aide said the prominence of those issues — combined with the vocal opposition from Obama’s own liberal base — puts the president in a tougher spot this year than in speeches past.

“There has been tension from the very beginning,” the former aide said. “But it’s pretty pronounced right now.”

For Democrats, the timing is not ideal. Party leaders want to forge a united front in a presidential election year when they’re trying to mold an image as the party of shared values fighting for American workers and families in the face of an obstructionist GOP that prioritizes corporations and other well-heeled special interests.Obama has largely done well in reconciling rifts with congressional Democrats, but the growing outcry over his Iran policy, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the deportations of illegal immigrants highlights how his focus on legacy-building is conflicting at times with his party’s priorities.

Liberal Democrats in both chambers have hammered the accord as lacking sufficient protections for the environment, food safety, workers’ rights overseas, and jobs and wages at home, among other concerns. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, has joined that chorus.

The critics on Monday  — including top Democratic Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Peter DeFazio (Ore.) — said they wanted to “show a unified front against a bad trade agreement and the dangerous effects that it can have on the country.”

The administration infuriated liberals this month by rounding up more than 120 people in the country illegally who had been denied asylum and now face deportation, primarily to Central America. Many of those arrested are women and children who arrived as part of the 2014 migrant surge at the Texas-Mexico border.

source-the hill, mike lillis, tpp

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