WASHINGTON — The secretary for one of the world's wealthiest men and a cancer survivor are among those invited by the White House to attend the State of the Union address.
This has become an annual rite, where the House visitor's gallery takes on the sort of gravitas shown at the Academy Awards' Red Carpet ceremony. The White House says the secretary to billionaire Warren Buffett, Debbie Bosanek, will be a guest, as well Adam Rapp, the cancer survivor, whom the White House says benefited from the health care overhaul.
Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of outgoing Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, also will attend. Giffords is resigning to focus on her recovery after being shot. Kelly, Bosanek and Rapp will join Michelle Obama in the first lady's box.
The Buffett rule — which got national buzz after the president said the billionaire investor paid a lower effective tax rate than Bosanek, his secretary — is a central theme in Obama’s plan to create jobs by pushing short-term spending.
Bosanek's salary would be in sharp contrast and a symbolic example on a day when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released tax returns that show he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent on an income of more than $20 million each of the past two years.
“The president will be very clear about his vision, will be very clear about his principles. . . about fair play and people getting a fair shot, economic security and protecting the middle class,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Republicans have staunchly opposed any new taxes, even those on the richest Americans. Congress is trying to identify $1.5 trillion in budget cuts agreed to last summer.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that Obama’s policies “are just going to double down on what hasn’t worked. . . It sounds like we’re going to see a rerun of what we’ve seen over the last three years.”
He also said Obama is playing class warfare again, calling his efforts “the politics of envy, the politics of dividing our country is not what our country is all about.”
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