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State of the Union

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

January 24, 2012 2:01:53 PM PST
He hasn't yet delivered the State of the Union address, but already Republicans are hammering Pres. Obama for playing politics instead of trying to fix the economy.

We haven't seen the speech - and in fact late this afternoon the President acknowledged he still had a "few touch ups left" on rewriting - so there is some head-scratching about why they'd make that criticism so early. But politics is politics, and the sad truth is that negativity is the norm. Is there really any wonder why so many Americans have so little trust of politicians and Washington? Is there any shock that just 13 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job - the lowest in 40 years?

I'm just sayin'.

As for Mr. Obama - after getting hammered by his potential opponents in the fall election and after overseeing first a deep recession and, over the past year, a slight improvement - the nation is truly divided over their President. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that the public is evenly split about Mr. Obama - 48 percent approve of his job performance, 48 percent disapprove. And it's important to note this little opinion poll tidbit: Only 4 previous Presidents since 1940 have begun their re-election year with less than 50 percent approval ratings. Just one of them went on to win a second term. That was Richard Nixon in 1972 - and we know what happened to him less than 2 years later. He was back on the beach in San Clemente, done in by the Watergate scandal.

The others, by the way - the ones who lost or didn't run, were LBJ, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

Our political reporter Dave Evans is in Washington tonight for the President's State of the Union - which could be his last, if the GOP captures the White House in November.

And one thing to watch tonight - 9 p.m. on Ch. 7 and on 7online - is how many of the Congressional members sit next to folks who aren't in their own political party. It started last year, after the shooting of Gabby Giffords. She'll be in the audience tonight - and should get another big ovation - and the bi-partisan seating will be apparent. How widespread - that's the question.

Meanwhile, much water cooler discussion today over the release of Mitt Romney's income tax returns. Mr. Romney has done very well for himself, thank-you-very-much, and declared income of more than $42 million in 2010 and 2011. But he paid income taxes of less than 15 percent of that amount - all legal of course because most of it was "unearned income," meaning it was money in the form of investments - either capital gains or dividends or interest. It was NOT wages or salary.

Is that fair to everyday-folk who pay full-freight taxes on their wages? Or is it good business, because people with money will invest their funds, knowing that the tax rate on those investments are relatively low?

We're interested in your take on all this. CLICK HERE to send me your opinion.

We'll also have the latest on the debate, at 11.

Also at 11, with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) more popular and more successful than ever, researchers are trying to improve the odds of women getting pregnant using the procedure. The testing of whether embryos are healthy right now is based on observation. Now, a new process is being reviewed where the fluid around an embryo would be tested ? giving doctors a more accurate take on whether the pregnancy will actually "take."

Carolina Leid has our story.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast (did anyone else wear shorts outside today?), and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho (in for Sade Baderinwa) and me, tonight at 11.


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