It was a day of rehearsals for President Bush as he fine-tuned his State of the Union address. Aides said the speech would focus primarily on three goals: global counterterrorism, domestic security, and the economy. Among other proposals, Bush was expected to call for:
deploying US troops and intelligence agents outside Afghanistan to expand the search for terrorists trained by Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network;
revision of pension laws and increased corporate financial disclosure, with an eye toward the collapse of Enron Corp., while denouncing corporate irresponsibility;
expanding Medicare to offer a prescription drug benefit to the elderly while loosening regulation of the health care industry;
extending Americorps, the taxpayer-funded national service program started by President Clinton, by allowing workers to serve churches or other religious groups;
approving an education tax credit for private school tuition and school supplies.
Orders for durable goods rose a better-than-expected 2 percent last month, the Commerce Department reported. Many analysts had predicted only a 1.5 percent gain. It was seen as another sign the manufacturing sector was beginning to rebound from recession. Overall, the department said durable goods orders, which cover everything from cars to washing machines to aircraft, fell a record 13.2 percent last year.
Despite signs of recovery, the US still needs short-term economic stimulus, Senate majority leader Tom Daschle said. Daschle (above left, with minority leader Trent Lott) spoke after a working breakfast with the president, who favors a broad economic stimulus plan. Daschle said what he termed "a cost-conscious" stimulus program "would be good for the country's economy and good for the country overall."
Bankrupt energy giant Enron announced a corporate shakeup, naming Stephen Cooper, a specialist in restructuring troubled companies, as interim chief executive. Chairman Kenneth Lay resigned last week. Chief financial officer Jeff McMahon will move into the post of president and chief operating officer. On Monday, more than 400 current and former employees filed suit against Enron and its former auditor/consultant, Arthur Andersen LLP, over lost retirement funds. (Story, page 1.)
A prison inmate who became a prize-winning poet while on death row was executed in California. Stephen Wayne Anderson was convicted of murdering an elderly woman in Bloomington, Calif., in 1980. He was the 10th person to be put to death since the state reinstituted capital punishment in 1978.