As President Obama is preparing to deliver his State of the Union (SOTU) address, this Tuesday evening, several pundits are speculating about what the President will likely say. While much uncertainty remains, a common theme based on President Obama’s recent moves towards the ideological center emerges.

Marc Ambinder writes in the Atlantic that President Obama’s State of the Union address will likely focus on getting Americans back to work by making the American economy more competitive. The President’s recent executive order, reaffirming that regulations need to be under close scrutiny, falls right in line with that theme.

“I know we can win that competition. I know we can out-compete any other nation on Earth,” [President Obama] said.  “We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America’s economy.”

For the State of the Union and Obama’s agenda, “[t]hat means,” a senior administration official said, “investing in the key drivers of long-term economic growth while aggressively working to make government more effective and efficient.”

President Obama’s centrist SOTU rhetoric will likely be met with similar skepticism as his recent announcement to order a review of federal regulations. I described the skepticism many express regarding the President’s sincerity in getting rid of federal regulations “that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb,” in a recent post covering President Obama’s proposed 21st Century Regulatory System.  Further skeptics include Jeff Jacoby, who points out in the Boston Globe:

“This executive order is hardly a war on red tape,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute remarked, noting that it duplicates a Clinton-era order that has been on the books all along. …

It was only last spring, after all, that The New York Times – in a story headlined “With Obama, Regulations Are Back in Fashion” – was reporting on “the surge in rule-making” and how the administration “has pressed forward on hundreds of new mandates.” In October, a Heritage Foundation report on “Obama’s torrent of new regulation” concluded that the federal regulatory burden was increasing at an unprecedented rate: In fiscal 2010 alone, the administration had adopted 43 major new regulations, at an estimated annual cost to the economy of $26.5 billion, a record.

And even as Obama promises to throttle back the regulatory overdrive, the White House says that ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank – the massive new laws overhauling health care and the financial industry, which will create scores of new agencies and generate hundreds of new regulations – will not be affected. You don’t have to be an Obama-wary conservative to assume that the impact of the president’s order, as the Times put it last week, “is likely to be more political than substantive.”

While SOTU represents a great campaign speech opportunity for President Obama, it remains to be seen whether the President is serious about working for the majority of Americans who think that the country is on the wrong track, federal spending and the deficit need to be reduced, and that government is trying to do too much of what would be better left to markets.