January 31, 2006
Vol. 9, No. 5
In this issue:
This year's presidential harangue is being framed as more thematic than programmatic, which is to say, the laundry list will be shorter. But George Bush still has much to get done with the speech, not the least of which is to get the GOP back on the offensive. That may prove difficult given the topics Bush is expected to tackle.
Illegal immigration remains a hot-button with the GOP conservative base, so Bush will likely linger there. But that base also utterly abhors previous Bush administration moves toward a guest-worker program: "Amnesty," conservatives snort. Unless Bush comes out for some of the reforms kicked around in the House, such as an end to birthright citizenship, all Bush can offer is more spending on border control.
More spending will also be a theme with regard to health care and the Medicare drug benefit, well on its way to becoming the entitlement that ate Washington. Still, Bush will want to remind seniors that Republicans handed them this goodie, not Democrats. There will also be some gestures toward cutting discretionary spending, but next to the mammoth growth in entitlement spending, they will be insignificant.
Bush will also seek to entrench the spin that authorizing the National Security Agency's domestic spying program was the only right and rational course to take in time of war, and that Bush seeks only to protect the American people. This sets him apart from both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Or so the theory goes.
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