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What Trump Is Likely to Discuss During His State of the Union

President has key opportunity to address such critical issues as the economy, border security, and criminal justice reform

In today’s contentious political climate, President Donald Trump has a major opportunity to address such key issues as the economy and border security on Tuesday night during his second State of the Union address.

Trump will be delivering the address amid his ongoing political fight over border security with Democratic leaders — a fight that led to the recent partial government shutdown, with another one threatened in the weeks ahead.

The president (shown above during last year’s State of the Union) is almost certain to discuss this, along with criminal justice reform and other issues.

The White House gave some indication of what the president plans to talk about on Tuesday night. The 45th president will call for unity and bipartisan cooperation, according to an excerpt of the speech the administration released.

He is also set to discuss the breaking down of decades of gridlock.

“The State of the Union will be an opportunity for the American people to hear directly from President Trump about what he is doing to secure our border, strengthen our economy, and improve our criminal justice system,” Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest told LifeZette.

“Americans will clearly see that President Trump is committed to fighting for us and Democrats are only committed to fighting the president.”

Related: ‘Bad Decision’ by Trump to Delay His State of the Union

Reagan biographer and presidential historian Craig Shirley told LifeZette that these speeches tend not to be memorable. The farewell addresses of former presidents George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan are among the exceptions, he said.

But Shirley also said Trump’s State of the Union on Tuesday night could provide a boost in the polls.

“Presidents usually get a bump in the polls, so Trump needs to do well,” Shirley told LifeZette. “He needs to forget about the Democrats in the House chamber and focus on the American people. The State of the Union is good — and he needs to tell the American people just that.”

Trump is likely, of course, to mention his ongoing fight with House Democrats, given that the issue is at the forefront of national discussion. The president’s been trying to secure $5.7 billion for a physical wall across the southern border. Democratic leaders have resisted providing any funding for the wall.

“Trump is not known as a good speechifier, but his SOTU last year was particularity good,” Shirley also told LifeZette. “I would advise him to tone down the use of first-person pronouns to the best of his ability — and talk about ‘we, us and ours’ far more than ‘my and I.’ The American people are counting on him.”

Related: White House Fights for Border Security with Possible New Shutdown Ahead

Trump said late last year that he would not sign any more spending bills that didn’t include funding for his border wall.

The gridlock led the government to shutdown on December 22. But the president eventually relented on his veto threat, allowing the government to reopen on January 25. The spending bill merely pushed back the problem by funding the government for another three weeks.

The idea was to give both sides time to negotiate a deal on border security. But the two sides still seem wedged in their respective positions, which means another shutdown is possible on February 15. The conference committee to negotiate a deal first met on January 30.

Trump is also likely to talk about the situation along the southern border. Scores of migrants over the past year have shown up to claim asylum.

“We are pleased that the president will address the crisis at our southern border,” Tea Party Patriots Action honorary chairman Jenny Beth Martin told LifeZette. “After three decades of unfulfilled promises, we are thankful that President Trump has made securing our southern border a priority for the sake of ensuring the safety and security of all Americans.”

Trump has promised to stop illegal immigration because of the impact it has on the domestic workforce, along with the potential criminal elements that have entered and are entering the country. Among his invited guests to the SOTU, Trump asked members of a family whose loved ones were killed by an illegal immigrant.

The economy will be a focus almost certainly on Tuesday night as well. Trump came into office promising to fix the economy in a way that benefits domestic workers. His agenda has included deregulatory efforts, tax cuts, and the renegotiation international trade deals.

“I still think there was a lot to be said around November, during the midterms, in terms of the success of the economy — and I don’t think the Republican Party did as good a job as they could have [in] highlighting that,” Job Creators Network president Alfredo Ortiz told LifeZette. “So I think the president has a great opportunity, for about 90 minutes or so at the bully pulpit, to really highlight some of those key accomplishments in terms of regulatory reform, tax reform, and the impact that has had.”

Related: Economy Adds 157,000 New Jobs as Trump-Led Expansion Continues in July

Trump has overseen a steadily improving economy, including trends such as the employment rate and economic growth, though they were already improving as he entered office. Nevertheless, those trends continued to improve with Trump in the White House — and there’s been a significant increase in economic confidence and a jump in capital investments under this president.

“Business formation is back. That was one of the concerns we saw during the Obama administration, which is why we kicked it into high gear [in terms of] talking about the importance of small businesses four years ago now,” Ortiz said. “We saw the basically negative business formation trends; we had more businesses closing than opening. That was a real concern. But we’re seeing permits [to start small businesses] go back up — I think a 116-percent increase — and people are just feeling more optimistic. Entrepreneurs and [small business owners] are feeling more optimistic about the future.”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became a major piece of the Trump economic agenda when it became law in December 2017. The law lowered taxes for most of the income brackets, along with corporations and many small businesses.

It also simplified some parts of the tax code by reducing or eliminating certain deductions while increasing the standard deduction.

Trump also has had successes with criminal justice reform that perhaps he will discuss. The First Step Act was signed into law on December 21. The bipartisan bill is designed to incentivize inmates to participate in programs aimed at helping them give up their criminal lives and reenter society.

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Connor D. Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected].