President Donald Trump tonight will give his first State of the Union address in front of the new Democratic Congress and is expected to embrace unity — at least for the night.
“Choosing Greatness” is the official White House theme.
“I really think it’s going to be a speech that’s going to cover a lot of territory, but part of it’s going to be unity,” Trump told reporters this week.
In his speech, Trump is expected to highlight rare bipartisan accomplishments from last year and push Democrats to work with him on issues of potential agreement, such as infrastructure, drug prices and vocational training.
We talked to some local residents, business and elected leaders about what they want the president to address and some of the same issues kept coming up: Immigration, wages and the economy and trade.
Trump teased that he could drop a big announcement in his speech, suggesting he might make news on his threat to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress in his quest to build his long-promised border wall.
“Well, I’m saying listen closely to the State of the Union. I think you’ll find it very exciting,” Trump said.
A senior administration official said President Trump will focus on five main areas: immigration, trade, infrastructure, drug pricing and national security.
He will list what he sees as the dangers of illegal immigration and discuss his efforts to revise trade deals, including the updated agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The president will call on Congress to produce an infrastructure package and support efforts to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs. And he will discuss military efforts around the world, stressing his interest in ending U.S. engagement in foreign wars.
We asked local people, business leaders and elected officials to weigh in on what they want President Trump to address tonight. Here’s a look at what they said:
Local businessman Steve Staub
Steve Staub, co-owner of Harrison Twp.’s Staub Manufacturing Solutions, was Trump’s guest at the 2018 State of the Union address. This year, Staub is staying in Dayton. But he hopes the president will address the long-simmering issue of trade. He thinks American businesses want clarity on the trade dispute with China.
Negotiators for the United States and China ended trade talks last week in Washington, D.C., without any definitive announcements. Now President Trump plans to meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to discuss remaining issues.
A pause in tariffs escalation is set to end March 2. After that, the U.S. may raise import taxes from 10 percent to 25 percent for $200 billion in Chinese goods.
Businesses can abide by the rules of the road –- but they have to know what those rules are, Staub said.
“I’m just hearing people say, just finalize it so we know what the rules are,” he said. “We can always play well if we know what the rules are. Just get it finalized one way or another.”
“I think companies will be able to plan more once they know what the final numbers will be,” Staub said. “China’s economy is really struggling right now. They’ve actually been coming back to the U.S. saying, hey, we’re ready to negotiate.”
Another issue that he believes deserves sustained attention is the continued use of opioids.
“Hopefully, they can make some more progress on that,” Staub said. “I don’t know what the answers are, but it’s something we sure need to keep addressing.”
Russell Willingham, Dayton resident
“I hope he’ll say that he won’t build that wall, keep it the way it was. There wasn’t anything hurting when people were coming over here from Mexico…And talking about how he’s sorry that (the government) shut down, and (workers) couldn’t get money. I want him to say that he’s sorry for that.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg
“The issue of border security is incredibly important to the Dayton area. We have been tragically impacted by the heroin and fentanyl epidemic, half of which has entered the country from our southern border. In order to cut the supply of heroin and fentanyl coming to the Dayton area, we must support President Trump’s effort to secure the border.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley
“We’re interested in what he’s doing particularly around people getting a decent wage. Everybody in Dayton is working, but nobody is getting paid very much. We are one of the areas where wages have stagnated. What does he plan to do about that? It’s a real issue for the Midwest.
I would think he’d do something because he’s obsessed with Lordstown and what his tax reform bill has done has (incentivized) the moving of manufacturing jobs overseas.”
Belinda Metter, Kettering resident
“I’d like him to continue to increase the economy and the job growth that we have, not only in Ohio, but in the United States. I’d like him to build a barrier to help protect our country and also with him to work with the other countries where these migrants are coming from, since their life is so bad there that maybe their country could make it more feasible for their people to stay in their home country.”
Jim Colvin and Cathering Lucey of the Associated Press contributed to this report.