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Re-Election Agenda
ABCNews ^ | 1/20/04 | Terence Hunt

Posted on 01/20/2004 3:28:10 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection

President Bush, wrapping the themes of his re-election campaign in an upbeat State of the Union address, planned to say tonight that America is still a nation at war and must not "falter and leave our work unfinished."

Bush said he was optimistic about the reviving economy and urged Congress to take steps to make sure the recovery lasts. "We must respond by helping more Americans gain the skills to find good jobs in our new economy," the president said.

Excerpts of his address were released in advance by the White House.

"America this evening is a nation called to great responsibilities," the president said. "And we are rising to meet them. … We have not come all this way — through tragedy and trial and war -— only to falter and leave our work unfinished."

The Right Decision

Bush planned to say the United States made the right decision by going to war against Iraq, aides said, even though inspectors have been unable to find any of the weapons of mass destruction that the administration cited as justification for the invasion.

Bush's argument now is that the United States and the world are safer and the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam Hussein. Around the world the United States is still at war against terrorists, he says.

Reviving old proposals, Bush was calling on Congress to overhaul Social Security to allow workers to invest some of their payroll taxes in private retirement accounts. He also was renewing proposals to help Americans cope with the rising costs of health care and make tens of hundreds of billions of tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 permanent.

But budget deficits approaching $500 billion have made many in Congress wary about expensive proposals.

A President Above Politics

Bush's speech was designed to cast him as the commander in chief, grappling with the nation's problems and above politics while Democratic rivals for his office race around the campaign trail trading charges.

The president's speech falls one day after the one-two finish of Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards in the Iowa caucuses threw the Democrats' race into a wide-open contest going into next week's New Hampshire primary.

Bush faced an electorate closely divided over the nation's direction. Americans are evenly split on his handling of domestic issues such as education, health care and energy, and just over half approve of his handling of the economy. His strong suit remains foreign policy, especially his handling of terrorism.

Bush's job approval among voters in an AP-Ipsos poll early this month was 56 percent, a relatively strong position at this stage of an re-election campaign.

Turning Economic Recovery Into Prosperity

The State of the Union is an annual political ritual, putting the president at center stage to report on the nation's health. This year it fell one year to the day before Inauguration Day, underscoring the high stakes for Bush in a speech seen by tens of millions on television.

While Democrats emphasized that the United States has lost 2.3 million jobs since Bush took office, the president was emphasizing positive news.

"His top domestic agenda is turn this economic recovery into lasting prosperity — that means creating more high-paying jobs and giving Americans the skills to compete for those jobs," White House communications director Dan Bartlett said on the White House Web page.

Strong Support for Traditional Marriage

Bush was renewing his push to steer federal money to religious groups that provide social services. He was expected to repeat his belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but stop short of seeking a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

Foreign policy was the opening theme of Bush's speech, and the president was expected to point to Libya's decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction and encourage other nations — North Korea and Iran, in particular — to follow suit.

Last year's speech brought criticism over passages asserting that Saddam was "assembling the world's most dangerous weapons" and citing British intelligence alleging that Iraq had sought to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa. The administration later acknowledged it had no proof about uranium purchases.

In nearly 10 months, nothing has been found in Iraq from a long and classified intelligence list of weapons of mass destruction.

Health Care and Unemployment Concerns

On the domestic front, Bush was to propose measures to curb the rising costs of health care, administration officials said.

The package, drawing on measures already announced, includes tax incentives to make high-deductible, low-premium policies more attractive, and to bring more people into the insurance system; health savings accounts, which allow workers to place money into accounts tax-free and withdraw it with no tax penalty for medical expenses; limits on medical-malpractice awards, and permission for businesses to pool their resources to get workers coverage.

Bush also was calling for new job-training grants channeled through community colleges to help prepare American workers for a changing economy. And he was making a fresh push for re-employment accounts to help workers pay for job-search expenses.

On the tax front, Congress may give its most urgent attention to tax cuts that are to be partially rolled back at the end of the year, including the $1,000 child tax credit, some marriage penalty relief and the expansion of the 10 percent tax bracket.

TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: agenda; excerpts; gwb2004; sotu; state8of8union

1 posted on 01/20/2004 3:28:10 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
What time is the State of The Union tonight? (I'm Pacific Time)
2 posted on 01/20/2004 3:35:12 PM PST by PureSolace (I love freedom.)
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To: PureSolace
6pm I think.

Its 8 central time.
3 posted on 01/20/2004 3:38:22 PM PST by RWR8189 (Its Morning in America Again!)
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To: RWR8189
Thanks :)
4 posted on 01/20/2004 3:49:37 PM PST by PureSolace (I love freedom.)
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To: PureSolace
Let me summarize the agenda for you.

Throw some money around. Point out how he's kicking butt on the enemies of the US. Throw some more money around. Pander to a group of minority voters. Throw some more money around. Talk about his vision for the future. Throw some more money around.

"Thank you good night."

Is it obvious that I've about had it with our compassionate conservative president? Anybody see the statistic in the WSJ today that spending went up less under CLINTON (CLINTON?!?!?!) than any other president in the last thirty years. Less spending under Clinton?!?!?

W, by contrast, has spent more than any other president (percentage increase in domestic, non-military spending). Might as well vote for the real Democrats as this fake Republican.

5 posted on 01/20/2004 4:42:50 PM PST by Hardastarboard
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