Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC News Network's Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: The State of the Union by the numbers — what Obama did not say.

The number:

16 trillion

The total estimated public debt, in dollars, in the U.S.

Source: U.S. Treasury Department

U.S. President Barack Obama gave his fourth State of the Union address on Tuesday night and appealed, not surprisingly, to middle-class Americans.

Obama was sending the message that he understands Americans have been squeezed over the past few years, and that the White House, with Congress' co-operation, could have some solutions.

That includes raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour; reforms to education, including working with states to make high quality pre-school available to all children; and help for manufacturing. Obama says he can do all of this without raising the deficit.

Nik Nanos says none of these promises are a surprise "when you look at the vice-grip the middle class has been under over the past 10 years."

mi-nanos-board-460

Shaded areas represent periods of economic recession. (CBC)

According to the Economic Policy Institute's analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, middle-class incomes in America have stagnated over the past few decades.

Over the past 10 years, the median income for middle class households — that's the middle point for household incomes — has actually fallen by $3,700.

But while Obama outlined his plans to help Americans struggling to pay the bills, he left out one crucial number: the public debt.

Total public debt in the United States is at $16 trillion.

"This is what the fight has been about between the Democrats and the Republicans. This is the elephant in the room that he doesn't want to talk about, but that is actually on the minds of everyone in Congress," Nanos said.

The president said all the initiatives he announced in his State of the Union will not add to the country's deficit, but Nanos warned that Republicans will not buy into that promise.

"For a lot of those Republicans, they're looking at all those different initiatives and thinking, 'How is this not going to cost any money?'" Nanos said.

What's in it for Canada?

Nanos highlighted Obama's announcement of American trade negoations with the European Union as something Canadians should be watching.

"This is critical for Canada because the U.S. is our main trading partner... we have to watch to see how all those negotiations interlock in terms of impact on the Canadian economy," Nanos said.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, a research associate professor with SUNY (Buffalo) and a 2013 public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.