In State of the Union, Bush unfurls a long 'to do' list for Congress
He called Monday on lawmakers to pass a stimulus plan, health-insurance tax breaks, and education reform – while trimming pork-barrel spending.
Lame duck? Who's a lame duck? George W. Bush may have fewer than 12 months left in office, but on Jan. 28 that did not stop him from delivering a combative State of the Union speech that was perhaps short on soaring rhetoric but long on challenges to Congress to act.Skip to next paragraph
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The address was "noteworthy for not being particularly noteworthy," judged Charles Kupchan, senior fellow for European studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. While Mr. Kupchan was talking about foreign affairs in particular, that judgment might extend to the domestic portions of the speech as well.
At least that's what the president's Democratic opponents claim. Mr. Bush made no expansionary proposals, and few new proposals at all, said some lawmakers.
Bush began the address – his final State of the Union – with a nod to bipartisanship, calling on Republicans and Democrats to show the nation that they "can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time."
Then he mentioned the economic stimulus deal his administration recently struck with House Democrats. But rather than hold out this deal as an example of Washington doing good work, he warned lawmakers against loading the legislation with extra provisions – something that, to be fair, Congress has been known to do.
"That would delay [the stimulus bill] or derail it, and neither option is acceptable.... Congress must pass it as soon as possible," said Bush.
And so it went. Bush marched through a list of domestic items and told lawmakers in no uncertain terms what they should do with each. Earmarked pet projects in spending bills should be cut in half, he said, or the bills in question would be vetoed. On healthcare, Congress should pick up on his previous call to establish a health insurance tax deduction for individuals. On medical research, Congress should ban the cloning of human life. Federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences should be doubled, Bush said.