Bush pushes fighting Iraq, domestic plan

WASHINGTON–Though crowded with proposals for new domestic initiatives, President Bush’s State of the Union address underscored how thoroughly his presidency is being shaped and driven by the fierce engine of war.

His speech Tuesday night was defined by the prospect of military action against Iraq–if not imminently, then before very long. "We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding," Bush said. "If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."

Bush had no shortage of ambitious domestic ideas. He made a passionate pitch for his $674 billion stimulus and tax cut, centered on eliminating the taxation of dividends for individuals. He urged Congress to move this year on a fundamental restructuring of Medicare that would provide seniors with a prescription drug benefit, while making the program more reliant on private health insurers.

He renewed his call for Congress to advance the production-centered energy plan. And he unveiled a major new humanitarian effort, calling for a $15 billion, five-year drive to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.

All but the last of these ideas promise intense conflict with democrats, who wasted no time in condemning Bush’s domestic agenda.

"I didn’t hear tonight any realistic plans for making [the state of the union] better," said former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

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Title: Bush pushes fighting Iraq, domestic plan | Author: Ronald Brownstein | Section: News | Published Date: 2003-01-29 | Internal ID: 3090