In State of the Union, Trump to talk econ­omy

Aides say he will set aside his more com­bat­ive tone.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ken Thomas

Seek­ing to WASH­ING­TON — move past the shadow of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in­tends to use his first State of the Union ad­dress to cite eco­nomic progress un­der his watch while push­ing for bi­par­ti­san­ship with Democrats on is­sues such as re­build­ing roads and bridges.

The White House said Sun­day that the pres­i­dent would point to a ro­bust econ­omy and low un­em­ploy­ment dur­ing his first year and the ben­e­fits of a tax over­haul dur­ing Tues­day’s ad­dress to Congress and the na­tion. Aides have said Trump, who stayed at the White House over the week­end as he pre­pared, is ex­pected to set aside his more com­bat­ive tone for one of com­pro­mise and bi­par­ti­san­ship.

“The pres­i­dent is go­ing to talk about how Amer­ica’s back,” said White House leg­isla­tive di­rec­tor Marc Short. “The pres­i­dent is also go­ing to make an ap­peal to Democrats ... to say we need to re­build our coun­try. And to make an ap­peal that to do in­fra­struc­ture, we need to do it in a bi­par­ti­san way.”

Short said Trump would urge Democrats to sup­port ad­di­tional mil­i­tary spend­ing in light of “dra­matic threats on the global scene.”

White House of­fi­cials have said the theme of the an­nual ad­dress will be “build­ing a safe, strong and proud Amer­ica,” and that Trump was look­ing to show­case the ac­com­plish­ments of his first year while set­ting the tone for the sec­ond.

As Trump looks ahead, spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble ob­struc­tion of jus­tice and Trump cam­paign ties to Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion grinds on.

It of­ten has dis­tracted from the pres­i­dent’s mes­sage. For ex­am­ple, Trump’s ad­dress to fi­nan­cial and global lead­ers in Davos, Switzer­land, last week fol­lowed re­ports that he or­dered a top White House lawyer to fire Mueller last June but backed off when the lawyer threat­ened to re­sign. Trump called the re­port “fake news.”

On the pol­icy front, im­mi­gra­tion is an im­me­di­ate flash­point for Trump and Congress. In the prime-time speech Tues­day, the pres­i­dent plans to pro­mote his pro­posal for $25 bil­lion for a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der and for a path to cit­i­zen­ship for nearly 2 mil­lion young peo­ple brought to the U.S. il­le­gally as chil­dren.

Trump’s plan in­cludes bil­lions for bor­der se­cu­rity and sig­nif­i­cant changes to le­gal im­mi­gra­tion long sought by hard-lin­ers within the Repub­li­can Party. But some con­ser­va­tives have warned that the deal would amount to “amnesty” for the young im­mi­grants known as Dream­ers, and many Democrats and im­mi­gra­tion ac­tivists have out­right re­jected it.

“I think all of us re­al­ize that it’s go­ing to take a com­pro­mise on this is­sue for us to get some­thing done and to pro­tect the Dreamer pop­u­la­tion, which is cer­tainly a goal of mine,” said Sen. Su­san Collins, R-Maine. “But I think the pres­i­dent is also right about bor­der se­cu­rity, that we do need to beef up our bor­der se­cu­rity.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., called Trump’s pro­posal “a good start­ing point.”

“Let’s see if it’s some­thing that we can agree on, some­thing we need to ad­just, some­thing we can ne­go­ti­ate with,” he said.

Part of Trump’s goal in the speech is to set the course of the de­bate as Repub­li­cans look to re­tain their ma­jor­ity in Congress. He is ex­pected to say the tax over­haul will un­leash eco­nomic growth and he will point to com­pa­nies that have pro­vided their em­ploy­ees with $1,000 bonuses and other ben­e­fits.

Trump plans to out­line a nearly $2 tril­lion plan that his ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tends will trig­ger $1 tril­lion or more in public and pri­vate spend­ing on roads, bridges and other public works projects.

On trade, Trump will note his pref­er­ence for one-on-one deals in­stead of mul­ti­lat­eral agree­ments.

And he will of­fer an up­date on the fight against ter­ror­ism and his view of in­ter­na­tional threats, in­clud­ing North Korea. A se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial pro­vid­ing a preview of the speech said Trump prob­a­bly would avoid the taunts of “Lit­tle Rocket Man” for Kim Jong Un and “fire and fury” that he used be­fore. The of­fi­cial wasn’t au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The ad­dress comes at a crit­i­cal point for the pres­i­dent. He is bat­tling poor ap­proval rat­ings and is try­ing to move past the gov­ern­ment shut­down that co­in­cided with the an­niver­sary of his inau­gu­ra­tion. He’s also pre­par­ing for a gru­el­ing midterm elec­tion sea­son that has tripped up other first-term pres­i­dents.

Trump was not ex­pected to em­bark on an ex­ten­sive sales pitch around the coun­try af­ter the speech. He plans to ad­dress a Repub­li­can con­gres­sional re­treat in West Vir­ginia on Thurs­day. Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence will at­tend a tax over­haul event in West Vir­ginia on Wed­nes­day.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS 2017

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­port­edly in­tends to use his first State of the Union ad­dress to Congress and the na­tion on Tues­day to push for bi­par­ti­san­ship on is­sues such as build­ing roads and bridges.

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