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Bush To Call For Bipartisan Push To Get ‘Big Things’ Done January 23, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Politics, US News, White House.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–President George W. Bush, addressing a Congress controlled by Democrats for the first time in his presidency, will call Tuesday for a bipartisan effort to “achieve big things for the American people,” including initiatives on energy, healthcare and immigration.

“Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on – as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done,” Bush will say in his State of the Union address later Tuesday.

“Congress has changed, but our responsibilities have not…we are not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air,” Bush will say. “Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people.”

With his approval rating battered by unease over Iraq and lawmakers signaling unhappiness with his new war strategy, Bush will use Tuesday’s speech to detail what’s at stake in Iraq and push for momentum in his domestic agenda.

The White House released excerpts of the speech, half of which will focus on domestic issues.

Bush will point to low unemployment, subdued inflation and rising wages to describe an economy “on the move.” He will call for measures to boost the country’s energy security, including an increase in the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a boost in renewable fuels and another attempt to reform fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars.

“Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean,” Bush will say. “For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists – who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments…raise the price of oil…and do great harm to our economy.”

“It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply – and the way forward is through technology,” Bush will say.

On healthcare, Bush will formally unveil proposals to reduce the number of uninsured and make private health insurance more attractive.

“In all we do, we must remember that the best healthcare decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors,” Bush will say.

As previewed this week by White House officials, the president wants to reform the tax code to create a standard deduction for health insurance – $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals. That, along with a plan to redirect federal funds to help states make health insurance more affordable, is designed to cut the number of uninsured and make it easier for people to buy private health insurance, rather then rely on employer-provided plans.

Bush also will use the State of the Union to renew his call for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, repeating his view that a controversial temporary worker program would ease pressure on the U.S. border with Mexico. The speech won’t contain any new immigration initiatives, however.

“Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America – with laws that are fair and borders that are secure,” Bush will say.

He is also not expected to break new ground on Iraq, or directly address the resolutions being debated in Congress on his new strategy. Instead, Bush will offer a brief defense of his plan, outline plans for a bipartisan advisory panel and highlight the consequences of failure in Iraq.

“Our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach,” Bush will say. “In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq – because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.”

By Henry J. Pulizzi, Dow Jones Newswires

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