President Joe Biden will begin to lay out a second-term agenda Thursday night in his State of the Union address to Congress, shifting to a campaign footing ahead of his expected re-match with former President Donald Trump this November.

White House aides said Biden will highlight the post-Covid economic recovery and lay out the administration’s plans to revamp the tax code, expand housing supply, and reduce the federal budget deficit. 

“Since the president took office, the economy has added nearly 15 million jobs. The unemployment rate has been below 4% for two full years at a time when inflation has come down by two-thirds. Wages have risen by more than prices and are higher than before the pandemic and we are seeing a small business boom,” White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden told reporters on a press call. “Lowering costs for working families is his top economic priority.”

But while the speech will be given in Biden’s official capacity as president, the political subtext is undeniable, coming just two days after Super Tuesday’s primaries, when Biden and Trump both effectively secured their party’s nominations and their main challengers dropped out.

Biden will frame his speech around the rhetorical question of asking on whose side are politicians, hoping to portray himself as fighting for working Americans and democratic values, while his opponents want tax breaks for the wealthy at home and to abandon Ukraine to Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin abroad.

He’ll use the address to remind voters of his legislative accomplishments, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, with which polls show many Americans are unfamiliar or confused about.

And it will be a chance for him to make a positive case for what he would do another four years in the White House since Democratic rhetoric around the election so far has focused instead on stopping Trump.

And Biden will seek to calm anxiety within his own party about his political and physical health, as polls show Trump ahead in key battleground states.

In the fractured modern media environment and polarized Washington, State of the Union Addresses carry less agenda-setting power than they have in the past. 

But will millions expected to watch, they are nonetheless a rare opportunity for Biden to speak to some Americans who don’t follow politics closely but tune in for big moments. 

One thing he won’t be doing is rolling out new orders on immigration.

Biden is unlikely to unveil new executive action on immigration or the southern border, according to two administration officials and a congressional official who saw a draft of the speech.

The Biden administration has been considering unilateral action for weeks that would make it harder for migrants to pass the initial screening for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, as NBC News has previously reported.

During Thursday’s speech, Biden is expected to slam the GOP on failing to advance a bipartisan border deal earlier this year, one administration official and one congressional official said. The tone will likely be similar to Biden’s visit to the southern border last week, in which he criticized Congressional Republicans for the lack of action and told them they needed to “show a little spine.”

Biden’s aides have consistently stressed that any executive action would pale in comparison to legislation that would provide the necessary funding to execute some of their priorities, including adding border personnel and concrete policy reforms.

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