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Obama, In Tonight's State Of the Union, Will Focus On Middle Class

President Obama speaks at Pellissippi State Community College, in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 9. Obama is turning to his biggest television audience of the year to pitch tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and put the new Republican Congress in the position of defending top income earners over the middle class.
Carolyn Kaster AP
President Obama speaks at Pellissippi State Community College, in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 9. Obama is turning to his biggest television audience of the year to pitch tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and put the new Republican Congress in the position of defending top income earners over the middle class.

President Obama delivers his State of the Union tonight and is expected to focus on the state of the economy and its impact on the middle class.

U.S. economic growth has been brisk and the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.8 percent. But economic challenges remain, including, as Obama told NPR's Steve Inskeep last month, for white working-class voters "who haven't seen enough progress economically in their own lives."

The president will likely discuss these issues tonight in front of the Republican-majority Congress, but, as The Washington Post notes, Obama's "tone and tenor" since the Democrats badly lost the midterm elections in November "have been anything but conciliatory."

The New York Times reports that the president will likely use the speech "to effectively declare victory over the economic hard times that dominated his first six years in office and advocate using the nation's healthier finances to tackle long-deferred issues like education and income inequality."

The speech starts at 9 p.m. ET and will be covered live by NPR as well as the major TV broadcast networks. Check back in this space for updates.

And here is a list of guest who will be seated with first lady Michelle Obama.

NPR's reporters will be covering the speech, and here is some of our related coverage:

--White House Rolls Out Tax Proposals Before State Of The Union Address

-- Obama's Trouble Articulating The State Of The Economy

-- Obama To Call For Tax Hike On The Wealthy In State Of The Union

-- Working 3 Jobs In A Time Of Recovery

-- Iowa's Sen. Ernst Grabs Spotlight That's Often Proven Too Hot

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.