Trump State of the Union: What advisers want to hear

Some say he should take credit for the economy, others want him to reach across the aisle on taxes and health care

Feb 5, 2019 @ 2:24 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Financial advisers want President Donald J. Trump to put aside divisive political rhetoric and give a positive message about the economy and solutions to pressing problems during his address to Congress tonight.

In his State of the Union address, Mr. Trump should take a victory lap on the economy, said Brad Rosley, president of Fortune Financial Group in Glen Ellyn, Ill., with unemployment falling across many categories of workers.

"I would like the focus to be on the jobs that have been created for everyone," he said. "I'm a numbers guy. The facts speak for themselves."

Rather than dwell on his border wall, Mr. Trump should emphasize the real wage increases achieved by middle-class workers, said Dennis Nolte, vice president of Seacoast Investment Services in Winter Park, Fla.

"He should focus on the economy. He can take credit for it," Mr. Nolte said.

Mr. Trump should avoid attacks on Democrats and instead offer constructive proposals on immigration and other issues that have roiled Congress, said Diahann Lassus, president of Lassus Wherley in New Providence, N.J.

"I would like to hear something that's true and positive out of President Trump," she said.

In terms of specific issues, Ms. Lassus would like Mr. Trump to revisit the 2017 tax reform law that ended breaks for state and local taxes — a change that has hurt her clients in New Jersey and New York.

"It would be helpful if they go back and look at tax reform measures and reinstate many of the deductions that were eliminated," she said.

H. Jude Boudreaux, partner and senior financial planner at The Planning Center in New Orleans, faulted Mr. Trump for not working in a bipartisan way.

"We're not getting that leadership from our president," he said. "We as a people are not as radically divided as the political theater would make it seem."

Mr. Boudreaux said Mr. Trump should address health-care reform. He faulted Republicans for pushing to kill the Affordable Care Act but failing to offer a replacement. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed 70% of Americans say reducing health-care costs should be a top policy priority.

"I'd like to see a real commitment to some kind of new health-care solutions … to ensure access to health care for everyone," he said.

Mr. Trump could achieve results tonight on a looming issue: the threat of another government shutdown on Feb. 15.

Paul Auslander, director of financial planning at ProVise Management Group, said Mr. Trump should take another shutdown off the table as a negotiating tactic. He said the recent 35-day halt to some government operations hurt Republicans and Democrats.

"He could calm the markets and show leadership," Mr. Auslander said.

Mr. Nolte said a second shutdown would backfire on Mr. Trump.

"I don't think it's a winning strategy right now," he said. "The support from the American people isn't there" for another shutdown.

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