WASHINGTON – Continuing the break with State of the Union tradition, President Barack Obama will spend most of next week previewing more of the proposals he will outline in the upcoming address, including on identity theft, electronic privacy and other cyberspace issues, the White House announced Saturday.
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Traditionally, the White House closely guards plans to be offered in the State of the Union until just before the president delivers the nationally televised address.
But in a bid to generate excitement as he begins the next-to-last year of his presidency, Obama began previewing new initiatives during the week, including programs to boost homeownership by reducing mortgage insurance premiums and increase access to higher education by paying for the first two years of community college for Americans who meet certain criteria.
"I didn't want to wait for the State of the Union to talk about all the things that make this country great and how we can make it better, so I thought I'd get started this week," Obama said Wednesday in Michigan, where he discussed a rebounding U.S. auto industry. "I figured, why wait? It's like opening your Christmas presents a little early."
All of the proposals include steps Obama can put in place on his own, a practice he used frequently last year that irritated Republicans. Other proposals will require collaboration with Congress, which Republicans now control. They reacted coolly to Obama's announcements this week.
Last week, Obama highlighted proposals to help the economy and the middle class. The emphasis this week will be on cyberspace issues.
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Obama will use an event at the Federal Trade Commission to lay out the next steps in his plan to tackle identity theft and improve consumer and student privacy. It follows up on a plan Obama announced last October to tighten security for the debit cards that transmit federal benefits, like Social Security payments, to millions of Americans.
After holding his first meeting of the new year with the top leaders in Congress on Tuesday, Obama will discuss cybersecurity, including ways to get the private sector and federal government to voluntarily share more cybersecurity information. He'll do so at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which is housed in the Department of Homeland Security and shares information among the public and private sectors.
On Wednesday, Obama will be in Iowa to talk about ways to make affordable, high-speed Internet more available nationwide. The White House would not say where in Iowa the event will take place.
Vice President Joe Biden is also pitching in, traveling to Norfolk, Virginia, on Thursday to announce new funding to help train people to join the cybersecurity workforce, the White House said.
Obama's State of the Union address is scheduled for Jan. 20.
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