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The Bush Agenda

"Although it had been billed as one of the most important speeches of his presidency, there were few signs on Wednesday that [Bush's] State of the Union address had succeeded in stemming the rapid haemorrhaging of his authority," says the Financial Times.  "In spite of an impassioned plea for Congress to give his Iraq strategy a chance, Mr Bush failed even to sway waverers within his own party...  On domestic policy, meanwhile, the Democratic leadership in both houses dismissed Mr Bush's proposals as either too timid or irrelevant.  Mr Bush was also criticised for failing to mention reconstruction in New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005." 

The Wall Street Journal reports that for social and economic conservatives, Bush's speech "aggravated their underlying fear: that the president might become so consumed by the worsening conflict in Iraq -- and chastened by Democrats' takeover of Congress -- that he will give up on the issues they care about."  They are "becoming more openly critical, adding to the president's woes and emboldening Democrats for battles ahead.  Increasingly, they are looking beyond Mr. Bush for a new standard-bearer, though no one in Republicans' emerging 2008 presidential field has yet captured conservatives." 

Bloomberg says "[f]ree-market disciples are crying foul" over Bush's domestic proposals "that give Washington a greater role in tackling problems such as energy dependence, pollution, and rising health costs" because they would increase the size of government.  "Bush still believes 'limited government is best,' said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.  'But the federal government has an obligation to address America's security needs -- that's a role only government can play -- and that includes energy security.'" 

The new co-chair of the Republican National Committee has e-mailed excerpts of the speech to supporters, asking them to write letters to the editor and call in to talk-radio shows to promote Bush's agenda.

The Washington Times reports on resistance among conservative Republicans to Bush's call for comprehensive immigration reform, while Bloomberg says "Democrats are demanding [Bush] deliver significant support -- likely more than a quarter of all House Republicans -- to ensure passage of a bipartisan overhaul of U.S. immigration law...  Democrats say they won't shoulder the responsibility alone for any comprehensive and politically sensitive plan that includes Bush's proposals to give 12 million illegal aliens a chance at citizenship and to create a guest-worker program."   

Writing up Bush's visit to DuPont yesterday, the Boston Globe notes that while Bush "portrayed himself as leading the country into a new era of conservation and technological progress, his host, DuPont, was pushing for far more ambitious steps to combat global warming....  Two days ago, DuPont joined nine other corporations as well as environmental groups in calling for mandatory reductions in US greenhouse gas emissions, recommending a 60 percent to 80 percent reduction in emissions from current levels by 2050." 

"Bush also plans a speech on the economy next week in advance of releasing his 2008 budget plan Feb. 5." 

Per a Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday, Bush probably can't have both extended tax cuts and a balanced budget, despite his calls for both, the Los Angeles Times says.  "The nonpartisan CBO... did not contradict Bush in so many words.  But its tables painted an unmistakable picture of a budget that needed an extra infusion of cash or a sharp reduction in outlays if revenue were ever to exceed spending."