State of the Union 2020: What Will Trump Say About the Economy?

Expect Trump to tout U.S. employment figures and recent trade deals, and draw links between the economy and market indexes.
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President Trump is set to make his third state of the union speech tonight, where he’ll make the case for a second term in office in the midst of an impeachment trial and the launch of presidential primary season.

It’s unknown whether Trump will directly address the impeachment hearings in the speech, but he is expected to tout his administration’s economic policies and the country’s low unemployment figures, among other topics. The state of the union is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.

Speaking to Fox News on Monday, Tim Murtaugh, a director of communications for Trump’s re-election campaign, said that the President will use the speech to promote what he called “the great American comeback.” 

“People told us the construction jobs, the manufacturing jobs that had gone overseas were gone for good and were never coming back, well they were wrong. President Trump has gotten them to return,” he said, claiming that White House policies are responsible for 7 million new jobs and wage growth among the bottom-earning half of workers.

“The President has two new trade deals, two new terrorists taken off the board, and two new Supreme Court justices, and all that adds up to two terms as President,” Murtaugh said.

On Jan. 15, the U.S. and China signed a “phase one” trade pact intended to draw down tensions that had rattled the markets throughout 2019 and late 2018. The deal included increased U.S. agricultural exports and reforms to China’s policies around intellectual property, technology transfer, and financial services, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. Trump also signed a new U.S., Canada and Mexico trade agreement (USCMA) last week.

 “I think [trade deals] are going to be one of the major focuses because it plays into domestic concerns,” said Scott R. Anderson, a fellow at Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank. 

Trump may also draw links between economic policies and market momentum throughout his term. On many occasions, Trump has taken to Twitter to tout both economic metrics and the performance of market indexes -- and that was the case on Tuesday, as well. 

Trump’s state of the union address coincides with a busy week of political developments, not the least of which an anticipated conclusion to the President’s impeachment proceedings.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in December, but is widely expected to be acquitted by the Republican-led Senate in a final vote scheduled for Wednesday. The Senate rejected a bid for new witnesses and documents, with many Republican lawmakers arguing that it should be left to voters to decide whether the President should be removed.

The Democratic presidential primaries are also officially underway as of this week, with results of the Iowa caucus still hanging in the balance as of Tuesday mid-day. 

Citing technical issues with a new app and inconsistencies in reporting, the Iowa Democratic Party initiated a manual tabulation of results late Monday evening. Officials said in a statement that results from the Iowa caucus will be available sometime on Tuesday.