Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A report card on Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address agenda items

  • Renew USA Patriot Act. Bush succeeded in getting Congress to renew elements of the USA Patriot Act that empower law enforcement agencies in the hunt for terrorists.


  • American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). Bush proposed a commission that would double research in physical sciences in the next decade, train 70,000 teachers to lead high school Advanced Placement math and science classes, hire 30,000 scientists and engineers to work as teachers, and make permanent current tax breaks for research and development. While the White House requested an increase in ACI's budget, Congress had not appropriated the requested funds as of October.
  • Alternative fuels. Bush called for a 22% increase in federal funding for research into alternative fuels, highlighting the prospect of cars running on hydrogen and ethanol fuel made from corn, wood chips, stalks or switch grass. Representative Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced H.R. 5346: Alternative Energy Refueling System Act of 2006 in May 2006. It was referred to the Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials.
  • Katrina relief. Bush vowed to fulfill the $85 billion recovery effort for those hit by 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Progress is being made to clean up the damage but it is leaving environmental problems and some corruption in its wake.


  • Entitlements commission. Bush proposed a bi-partisan commission to figure out how to control costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. In June, Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced legislation (H.R. 5552) to establish such a commission The legislation was referred to the House Committee on the Budget.
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSA). To control health care expenses, Bush asked Congress to expand HSAs, which allow people to save money for medical expenses tax-free. Account holders then buy low-cost but high-deductible coverage for large medical outlays. In September a House Panel voted to expand HSAs and then Congress adjourned without considering the proposal in the full House or Senate.
  • Limit medical malpractice litigation. Bush asked Congress to pass legislation to limit medical malpractice litigation. On May 8, 2006 Congress voted against two measures to limit jury awards in medical malpractice lawsuits sponsored by Senate Republicans. No further progress on this agenda item has been achieved.
  • Guest worker program. Bush called for Congress to create a guest worker program for illegal immigrants. While many immigrant workers marched in support of the proposal, its House and Senate versions did not pass into law.
  • Line item veto. Bush asked Congress to give him a line-item veto. On June 22, 2006, the House passed a bill (H.R. 4890) that would call for a six-year line-item veto to cut down on the "pork barrel spending" associated with Congressional lawmaking. The bill stopped short of granting a full line-item veto like the one passed in the 1990s, and instead allows the President to send a bill back to Congress within 45 days for another vote to affirm rider bills. The bill passed 247-172 in the Republican-controlled House. In September the bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.
  • AIDS funding. Bush also asked Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act, and to provide new funding to states, to end the waiting lists for AIDS medicines in America. While the House voted 325 to 98 to change the funding formula under the act, the measure was blocked in the Senate. As of November 2006, Bush's call to re-authorize the act went unheeded.


  • Spread democracy and freedom around the world. On foreign affairs, Bush renewed his second-term promise to spread democracy and freedom around the world. The world has resisted, however. In January, Palestinians used a democratic process to elevate Hamas, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization. More importantly, US efforts in Iraq have spread civil war -- rather than democracy -- which the administration declines to acknowledge.
  • Permanent tax cuts. Bush repeated appeals to Congress to make his tax cuts permanent. His appeal did not pass into law. With a Democratic congress starting in January, this issue may not be considered until after the 2008 presidential election.
  • Medical insurance portability. Bush asked Congress to make it easier for people to keep medical insurance without extra cost if they change jobs or start a business. I could not discern any legislative progress on this initiative.
  • Ban human cloning. Bush called for Congress to pass a bill banning human cloning. While 15 states currently have laws pertaining to human cloning, there are no federal laws on this subject.


Post a Comment

<< Home