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The Bush Agenda

President Bush meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and then has a photo opportunity with the St. Louis Cardinals, who won the World Series last fall.

The Washington Post front-pages that one of Bush's goals in his State of the Union address will be a move towards a balanced budget. "Politically, analysts say, the president is calling the bluff of Democrats, who won control of Congress in part by accusing Bush of reckless fiscal policies. While Bush now shares the Democrats' goal to erase the deficit by 2012, the politically perilous work of making that happen … falls to the Democratic-run Congress." The article adds that pushing for a balanced budget has another purpose: reining in entitlement spending.

Yesterday, we noted that, per a London Observer article, Bush will make curbing global warming a goal in his State of the Union. But as the Washington Post reports today, NASA's earth science budget has decreased by 30% since 2000, according to a new report. "As a result … the United States will not have the scientific information it needs in the years ahead to analyze severe storms and changes in Earth's climate unless programs are restored and funding made available." 

That said, Bloomberg points out that Bush and Democrats will likely find some common ground in the energy debate. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that in his State of the Union and his upcoming budget proposal, Bush plans on detailing ways to curb health insurance costs by changing the tax-code, encouraging states to create insurance pools for low-income recipients, and expanding health savings accounts. "The examination of health care comes as Mr. Bush looks to define a domestic agenda in the final two years of a presidency that increasingly is being overshadowed by Iraq and hemmed in by newly empowered Democrats."

The AP has more on Bush's expected laundry list: "Reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and supporting alternative fuels are expected to be prominent themes of his speech. Bush also will challenge Congress to fix Social Security's long-term solvency problem, find a way to compromise on immigration and preserve tax cuts."

And the Washington Times says a "rebellion" is "brewing" among conservatives who are upset at Bush's choice of Sen. Mel Martinez -- who supports a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- as RNC chairman.