Bush addresses state of the union

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President George W. Bush focused on several key issues during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, covering everything from health care and prescription drug benefits, to America’s concerns with Iraq.

Bush addressed current issues on the economy, health care, energy, compassion security, outlaw regimes, and the war on Iraq, but one critic from CNN said the president still did not clearly state if America was going to war.

Candy Crowley, senior political correspondent for CNN, said Bush’s State of the Union speech was missing all the traditional components of past State of the Union speeches.

“For all the White House efforts to bill this address as equal parts economic recovery and foreign policy, for all the Democrats trying to turn the conversation to tax cuts and economic recovery, the tone of the evening said otherwise this is a wartime presidency,” Crowley said.

Crowley said the question still lingered as to if America was going to war and although the question was not answered definitely, Bush’s speech certainly leaned toward yes.

Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent for CNN, said President Bush’s remarks about Iraq were persuasive if you were already convinced that Iraq is a threat.

“If you went into the State of the Union address already convinced that Iraq poses an urgent threat to the United States and its allies, then you were further persuaded by President Bush’s remarks,” Woodruff said. “If you doubted the need for an overwhelming U.S. military attack, there was little to change your mind.”

Woodruff said the same goes for the president’s remarks on the health of the U.S. economy. Bush laid out the case for his tax cut plan, saying when people pay less in taxes, they spend more money, therefore creating jobs.

“Bush may get a momentary boost in public opinion as he launches this crucial third year of his presidency, but the divisions among Americans about how to approach foreign and, especially, domestic policy are just as deep as they were before Tuesday night,” Woodruff said.

CNN reported that the president proposed a $1.2 billion initiative for research to develop clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. The Freedom Fuel initiative plan will include $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure needed to produce, store and distribute hydrogen fuel for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation.

The president made another pitch for his $674 billion, 10-year economic plan, which includes proposals to eliminate taxes on stock dividends and to raise tax deduction limits for investments made by small businesses, CNN said.

A tax relief was proposed to 92 million Americans who would keep an average of almost $1,100 more of their money this year and every subsequent year. Bush noted that a family of four with an income of $40,000 would see its federal income taxes fall from $1,178 to $45.

The president announced the creation of a Terrorist Threat Integration Center based at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., that would collect and analyze foreign and domestic intelligence.

Bush also emphasized the need to confront the possible threat of “outlaw regimes” that “seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.”

Bush’s “Project BioShield” proposal calls for new spending to pay for “next-generation” medical countermeasures to bioterrorism and the proposal calls for almost $6 billion over the next 10 years to counteract smallpox, anthrax, and botulinum toxin.

Additional funds would be provided for countermeasures for other diseases, such as Ebola, once “safe and effective” treatments are developed, according to the White House.

Once again the president reiterated demands that Saddam Hussein fully disarm or face a U.S.-led military coalition. Bush outlined a broad case against Hussein’s regime and told Americans the nation is preparing for the possibility of war.

Bush also addressed the Iraqi people, telling them: “Your enemy is not surrounding your country — your enemy is ruling your country.” The president said the United States would ask the United Nations Security Council to convene Feb. 5 to discuss Baghdad’s “ongoing defiance of the world.”

At that meeting, Secretary of State Colin Powell will present “information and intelligence about Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups,” Bush said.