The Washington Post's Milbank observes of Bush's press conference yesterday, "The president seemed petulant in his refusal to answer questions; he was, after all, the one who summoned reporters to the White House for the purpose of questioning him. Probably, it was the tone of the questions that set him off: While Bush freely voiced his beliefs, the reporters seemed disinclined to accept his statements of faith."
Fed chief Ben Bernanke wasn't exactly bullish on making Bush's tax cuts permanent in his testimony before a Senate committee yesterday. He "urged action... to balance the budget and curb income inequality through better education, saying such goals should take priority." However, he also "said the benefits from raising revenues by letting [Bush's] tax cuts expire in 2010 must be weighed against the growth impact from higher taxes. He strongly urged Congress to strive to improve the government's balance sheet and said his biggest worry is the government is not prepared to finance baby boomers' retirement starting in 2011."
Roll Call says the White House has stepped up its lobbying of members of Congress on Bush's domestic priorities as the start of an effort to round out Bush's Iraq-heavy legacy "because the window is narrowing to pass Bush's priorities with just two years remaining in his second term. Bush officials also recognize that this year is their best hope to advance controversial bills such as immigration reform, given the politics of the 2008 presidential election already is taking hold."
Senate Republicans today plan to roll out "a seven-point agenda laden with traditional GOP initiatives from tax cuts to a stronger national security designed to redefine them as the party of reform."
Hispanic Democratic lawmakers hold a press conference this afternoon to argue how Bush's proposed budget will hurt Latino families. Due in part to the heated rhetoric in last year's immigration debate, Republicans received just 30% of the Latino vote in the midterms, per the exit polls -- down from the approximately 40% Bush won in 2004.