UPDATED WASHINGTON — President Trump will deliver a very optimistic picture of the State of the Union on Tuesday, in an address to a joint session of Congress that will be heavy in references to the growing economy, tax reform and elimination of regulations.
Trump will refer to this point of his presidency as a “new American moment.” “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream,” he plans to say, according to excerpts released by the White House.
“We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work; we want every child to be safe in their home at night, and we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love,” according to the excerpts.
“Americans love their country. And they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return,” the excerpt says.
More than two hours before the speech, people began taking their seats on the House floor and visitors started filling the gallery. Some lawmakers lined up on the aisle, putting them in position to shake Trump’s hand as he enters. This will be Trump’s first State of the Union address, and an opportunity to promote his accomplishments in his first year and pitch an agenda for the next 12 months.
The speech, however, comes in the midst of escalating drama over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and congressional Republicans’ efforts to release a memo they suggest shows the scale of impropriety on the part of the FBI in the way that it was handled. But Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, have blasted the plans to release of a memo he says is misleading and would “politicize” the process. Other critics have accused congressional Republicans of trying to soil the integrity of the FBI.
Trump’s speech is not expected to delve into any of the ongoing investigation. Instead, he is planning to focus on the economy, trade, infrastructure, immigration, energy, and regulations.
Tax reform: Trump will trumpet the tax reform legislation that passed last month, calling it the “biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.”
“Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses,” he will say.
He plans to claim that 3 million workers have gotten bonuses since the tax cuts were enacted, many of the in the form of $1,000 checks. Comcast, AT&T, and the Walt Disney Co. are among the companies that have given out or plan to give out the bonuses.
Regulations: Trump will talk about trying to restore the “bonds of trust” between Americans and their government, apparently including his drive to eliminate regulations. “In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history,” he plans to say.
Energy: “We have ended the war on American energy — and we have ended the war on clean coal. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.” Trump, however, announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, calling its provision unfair to the U.S.
Trade: “America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth.” One of Trump’s first moves in office was to back out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal between the U.S. and Pacific Rim countries, not including China. More recently, he has suggested that the U.S. could participate in some new pact under renegotiated terms.
Infrastructure: “I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.”
The White House is preparing a $1 trillion-plus infrastructure plan, and it is expected to include ways to upgrade and expand the broadband network.
Trump again will take aim as regulation. “America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just one year – isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take ten years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?”
Immigration: “Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.”
Democrats and a host of immigration groups hate the White House’s immigration plan. While it will provide protection and a path to citizenship for Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, they say it also will vastly scale back legal immigration and prevent the reunification of families.
Trump, however, plans to say that he is “extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed.”
Congress has a another key funding deadline next week, Feb. 8, to pass a spending bill. Under the “understanding” reached to end the three-day government shutdown earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell provided some assurances that he would open debate on Dreamer legislation if no wider agreement is reached.
National security: “Last year I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth. One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100% of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.”
Trump also plans to contrast his policies to that of past administrations, and is expected to also address other hot spots like North Korea.
“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of the past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”
Update: Shortly after the excerpts were released, a number of commenters on social media pointed out that the phrase “new American moment” has appeared in a prior speech, by Hillary Clinton, She used it in context of foreign policy in a 2010 speech while she was secretary of state.