Trump’s five goals for State of the Union address
by admin ·
It’s a big moment for Trump, who has had a tumultuous January that included a government shutdown, a tell-all book and a bombshell story on Thursday that he had sought to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump had one of his best days as president last year when he delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress. He’ll be looking for a repeat of that performance on Tuesday.
Here are five things the president will try to achieve.
Pressure Congress on immigration
The White House on Thursday rolled out an ambitious plan on immigration, an issue that has dogged Congress in the first weeks of the new year.
But the proposal quickly ran into a wall of opposition on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers say it did little to resolve their differences.
Trump will use part of the speech as a sales pitch for the plan, according to a senior administration official.
Expect Trump to frame the proposal as a bipartisan compromise that is Congress’s last, best chance to secure protections for young immigrants before they expire in the spring.The president’s remarks on immigration could provide some of the most dramatic moments of his address.
Several immigrants who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump canceled last year, will be in the House chamber as guests of lawmakers and will be listening closely for what the president has to say.
Lay out an infrastructure plan
Trump will put some meat on the bones when it comes to his long-awaited infrastructure plan.
A senior administration official told reporters that Trump will spend a chunk of his State of the Union detailing his trillion-dollar proposal to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems.
The president will appeal to Republicans and Democrats to get behind his plan because he believes it can garner “broad bipartisan support,” the official said.
The White House has not yet released the president’s infrastructure plan, but a leaked draft calls for a series of public investments as well as funding from state and local governments and the private sector.
The comments could help answer a lingering question: What does the president want to tackle next in 2018?
The first few weeks of the year have been consumed by the immigration and spending fight, leaving a muddled picture about the No. 1 legislative priority for the president and the GOP-controlled Congress after those battles are over.
Take an economic victory lap
The headlines in early 2018 have not been kind to Trump. Developments in the Russia investigations, questions about his mental fitness and his reported “shithole countries” remark have dominated the news.
Trump will attempt to refocus the nation’s attention on his economic record when he addresses the nation on Tuesday.
The unemployment rate is hovering around 4 percent, wages are rising and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has hit record highs.
Trump plans to point to those as evidence that his push to overhaul the tax code and slash regulations is bolstering the U.S. economy.
Americans “will be reminded about how much President Trump has accomplished in his first year. The economic upswing is helping everything,” the official said.
Trump could also give Americans a preview of his next big economic push: trade.
The president has sent conflicting signals about whether he plans to pursue the protectionist policies he promised during the campaign or go in another direction.
He has taken actions against China for intellectual property theft and slapped new tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, but at the same time raised the possibility the U.S. could rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement if the terms are improved.
Set stage for the midterms
The president isn’t expected to make an overt pitch to vote for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections, but one of his goals is to make the case to Americans that GOP leadership has produced positive results.
Trump can do that by highlighting his accomplishments and using positive, unifying rhetoric.
Most presidents use the State of the Union address to reach beyond their base to people who didn’t vote for them, something Trump has not frequently done during his first year in office.
But a senior administration stressed that unity will be a major thread of the address. The theme of the speech is “building a safe, strong and proud America.”
“The speech will make clear all groups are benefitting under this presidency,” the official said. “The president is going to show that all income groups, all people from all backgrounds are being lifted up by his policies.”
That’s likely to be a tough sell with some Americans.
Trump’s approval rating is floating around 40 percent and Democrats have an 8-point lead over Republicans in the generic ballot, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, numbers that do not bode well for the GOP in the fall.
Shake things up
Trump mostly stuck to the traditional script last February when he addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time.
The president’s sober tone and emotional tribute to the wife of a slain Navy SEAL earned him plaudits across the political spectrum.
“He became president of the United States in that moment, period,” liberal commentator Van Jones said on CNN after the speech.
But Trump is a nontraditional president, and he could look to shake up the format of one of America’s oldest political rituals.
The television audience for Trump’s speech last year was smaller than President Barack Obama’s first address to Congress, much to the chagrin of the former reality TV star.
Obama broke with tradition in 2015 in a tech-savvy way, posting his entire address on the online publishing outlet Medium.
The current president could similarly put his own Trumpian stamp on the address.