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Tony Snow met with a group of bloggers this afternoon to give a preview of the State of the Union speech. Joking about the wonkishness of the blogger class, Snow spent over a half-hour reviewing the policy aspects of the SOTU address tonight.
Bush will focus on domestic policies in the first half of the speech. The White House wants to focus on a number of new and existing policy proposals in the hopes of inspiring bipartisanship. Among their proposals will be new efforts on health care, leveraging the market rather than a top-down government approach to win cheaper and more flexible health insurance for self-employed Americans. Bush also wants to push new energy policies that will probably have more appeal to the Democrats, including a hike in CAFE standards and more support for alternative fuels.
Snow insists that the war on terror will get equal time with the domestic policy, but that appears true only if one takes the broadest possible view of the GWOT. It looks like the White House is including a number of other foreign-policy initiatives in that list. He will speak about the proposed expansion of the military by 92,000 uniformed personnel, a request made by Robert Gates in his first few weeks as Secretary of Defense.
Most of this is already well known. Snow indicated that Bush will try to offer an olive branch to Democrats, recognizing Nancy Pelosi's historic role as the first woman to serve as Speaker. The domestic policies appear tailored to fit within the Democrats' own policy initiatives. Most importantly, Bush will shy away from any further justifications of the new surge strategy, sticking with a reminder of the stakes in Iraq and its impact on US security and the global economy.
Will they accept the olive branch? It's hard to say. Snow felt that the Democrats can't risk a do-nothing Congress if they want to extend their majorities in 2008 and will have to work with Bush, at least on the war. I'd say it's more likely they'll work on some aspects of these domestic proposals, but I don't think working with the White House will win them many plaudits from their base. If they do want to meet Bush halfway, it won't be tonight, in any case.Sphere It View blog reactions
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