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Bush agenda

A day before departing for New Orleans the Gulf Coast, President Bush meets this afternoon with military service organizations in the White House.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation offers a "very preliminary" estimate that "Bush's plan to revamp the health-care system would increase taxes on Americans by $526.2 billion over the next decade."

Timed to his expected testimony on the Hill today, the Los Angeles Times reports that "Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has waged a clandestine charm offensive on behalf of an immigration overhaul. He consulted with supportive lawmakers, listened to adversarial congressmen and slipped into the private offices of wary senators." More: "An immigration overhaul is one area where President Bush's agenda closely matches that of the Democratic leadership." But they're "contending with a tight schedule and volatile politics." 

The US Supreme Court today will consider a challenge to regional conferences that promoted Bush's faith-based initiatives. "The legal question is not whether those conferences violated the constitutional separation of church and state, but more fundamentally when a taxpayer may even get into court to challenge such mingling of government and religion... Twelve states, backing the Bush administration, are trying to block the lawsuit. On the other side are atheists and religious organizations such as the American Jewish Congress and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty."