Top themes Obama will discuss in State of the Union speech

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST.

Although it is bound to contain some surprises, the White House has spent two weeks rolling out many of the themes he plans to highlight. Here is an overview of some of them:


A White House adviser said the theme of the address would be middle-class economics, and in particular tax reform. Obama will call for closing loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans and using the money to help the middle class with expenses such as education and child care.


Obama will seek support for two trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a group of countries in Asia and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe. He will also push for Trade Promotion Authority to speed trade deals through Congress. The deals and the “fast track” bill are controversial with his fellow Democrats.


The president upset Republicans last year with executive action that removed the threat of deportation for millions of illegal immigrants. He is likely to repeat the message he made then: if you do not like it, pass a bill to reform the system.


Obama is likely to press Congress to pass legislation to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity laws after recent high-profile hacking against companies and the federal government.


Obama will push for increased investment in infrastructure, a longstanding political wish. Among a series of initiatives, the administration has proposed “Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds” to help municipalities form public private partnerships for infrastructure projects.


Obama will call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick leave.


Obama is likely to highlight plans to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba and press Congress to lift the embargo on the island country. He will also note talks over Iran’s nuclear program and push Congress not to impose more sanctions.


Obama will propose a $60 billion program to offer two years of free community college tuition to students.


The president is likely to renew his call to close the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and urge lawmakers to remove roadblocks to transferring prisoners away from the controversial site.


Obama is likely to touch on the topic of law enforcement reform in light of recent high-profile cases of police brutality.


In aftermath of the Paris shootings, Obama is likely to renew a call to address violent extremism.

Reporting by Jeff Mason. Editing by Andre Grenon