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January 23, 2007
Bush To Focus On Domestic Agenda (Update & Bump)

In his next-to-last State of the Union speech, George Bush will focus more on his domestic agenda, attempting to find some common ground with the Democrat-controlled Congress. The New York Times reports that global warming and expanded health care will get featured status in a venue where national security has dominated the past five years:

Carrying some of the worst public approval ratings of any president in a generation, President Bush is heading into his State of the Union address on Tuesday night seeking to revitalize his domestic agenda but facing stiff resistance over the initiatives the White House has previewed so far.

Administration officials said Monday that among Mr. Bush’s proposals would be a plan to help states provide health care coverage to people who lack insurance by diverting federal aid from hospitals, especially public institutions. The provision is likely to draw loud criticism from municipalities across the nation and will significantly affect the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the nation’s largest municipal health care system.

Officials said Mr. Bush’s speech would include proposals to address the nation’s energy needs and global warming, partly by promoting the use and development of alternative fuels. He is also expected to renew his call for an overhaul of immigration law and to propose altering tax policies to help the uninsured.

The president’s advisers said they hoped Mr. Bush’s address would re-energize his domestic agenda by striking a bipartisan and ambitious tone as he faces further isolation on his Iraq policy.

“The power of the ideas requires people to take notice and take seriously important domestic initiatives,” said Dan Bartlett, the White House counselor. “There will be key signals to the American people that despite disagreements over the war, other work can be done.”

It sounds as though Bush may take a page from the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who reversed his falling approval ratings by stealing the Democratic playbook while they weren't paying attention. Bush has a much higher bar to clear in order to do that, but he wants to emphasize that the White House is open for business.

But will Bush give the store away? That will be a question on the minds of conservatives after looking at the topic list the White House has apparently leaked. Bush apparently wants to move away from national-security topics, especially since his speech on the Iraq surge failed to convince most to support it, even some of his allies in Congress. Moving away from that position of former strength may give the Democrats even more momentum on the subject -- and since Jim Webb will give the rebuttal for the Democrats, we can be assured the topic will receive plenty of coverage.

Bush's health-care proposal has already generated plenty of opposition. He wants to move health-care outlays from the hospitals to buying insurance for the patients. That may make some sense, but the transition will probably be brutal to the providers, and they're not happy about it. Labor unions oppose it already, which means it will get a chilly reception on the Hill when it gets introduced ... if it gets introduced.

Bush may get more traction on energy. He has worked with Tom Harkin on alternative fuels, which means ethanol for the Iowa Senator to give his blessing. Bush also hinted that he may support a boost in CAFE standards, requiring more energy efficiency from new vehicles. This has stirred controversy in the past, as some correlation has been seen between CAFE hikes and increases in vehicle deaths, presumably from vehicles without enough strength to save lives in impact situations.

Tony Snow says the President will remain "bold" in the SOTU speech tonight. We'll see if "bold" means standing up for conservative principles, or if it means a long season of retreat.

NOTE: Don't forget that I will live blog the speech tonight, and follow immediately after with the premier of CQ Radio.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden will never get hired as a speechwriter for the White House, but perhaps they should consider it.

Also, please note the Blog Talk Radio player on my right sidebar, above the Blogads strip. You can listen to the show live, directly from this page, using that player. We may also talk a little bit about one of my newer advertisers on the show -- Hillary Clinton. She made some interesting ad buys this week, and I'm not the only conservative blog to gain her sponsorship. Tune in and let's discuss it and what it means for the 2008 race.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 23, 2007 6:56 AM

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» "The State of the Union is a Disaster" from Ed
Ed Morrissey notes that the speech President Bush is giving tonight will be an attempt to achieve a Schwarzeneggerian triangulation with a suddenly left-leaning Congress--but at the strong risk of alienating Bush's conservative base, much as Arnold has... [Read More]

Tracked on January 23, 2007 2:09 PM

» State of the Union Speech, Why Bother? from Webloggin
Many Americans never watch the State of the Union Speech and would prefer to see the latest episode of some brainless reality show. I remember a time when Americans yearned to sit down and listen to words from our President. What’s changed? ... [Read More]

Tracked on January 23, 2007 3:16 PM

» What did he say? from The Thomas Chronicles
As the President prepares to make his State of the Union speech, some pundits, newsanchors, bloggers, and God-knows-who-else are already critiquing his speech. That would be typical enough, except the problem is: HE HAS NOT MADE THE SPEECH YET! One b... [Read More]

Tracked on January 23, 2007 5:01 PM


Keemo, I understand the sentiment, but if enough GOP Senators side with the Ds there will be no phones to man or neighborhoods to walk. It is simply astounding to see how few people realize that the "oblivion" you speak of is MUCH closer than it may VDH says, this must be how the 1930s felt...

Posted by: das411 [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2007 7:09 PM

Old DEad Meat:

Well, some people never do look comfortable in front of a camera really.

I don't think it was just Iraq that cost the GOP in 2006. I think it was a lot of things. I remember when the GOP went south on Tradesports after that silly Foley nonsense came out and I thought, surely something this silly can not make such a difference.

The bad feeling over immigration, corruption, pork, scandal, Iraq and just plain tired of the same old faces all played a part. But Iraq certainly had some impact.

Posted by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2007 7:15 PM

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