Bicycle Diaries: State of the union

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23.1.07

State of the union

state of the president

Tonight our 43rd president will make his annual State of the Union speech. He'll address the nation more unpopular than any president since Richard Nixon in 1974. He was beleaguered by the Watergate scandal and Viet Nam War.

For Bush, 30 years later, it's the Iraqi War. With his unpopular troop surge on the table, his job rating matches the worst of his presidency: Thirty-three percent of Americans approve of his work in office while 65 percent disapprove, 2-1 negative, matching his career low last May. Only three postwar presidents have gone lower Jimmy Carter, Nixon and Harry Truman. And only one has had a higher disapproval rating, Nixon.

White House aides have been quiet so far about Bush's specific focus. Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, has simply said the president
will address major issues, including the war on terror, energy, health care, immigration, and education ... and he’ll be talking about more, as well.
But most observers agree that with a new Democratic majority in both houses of Congress Bush will address:
  • Iraq and National Security - By his own admission, Iraq took a perilous turn for the worse over the past year.
  • Immigration -It exploded into public debate last year, but little has happened to change policies that Bush and Democratic leaders in Congress agree need fixing.
  • The Economy - Some congressional Republicans hail Bush's tax cuts as an economic success, but in terms of producing new revenue to help balance the budget, the cuts haven't done the job. Federal spending rose 42.4 percent from 2001 to 2006, while revenues increased only 20.9 percent.
  • The Environment - Global warming likely will rate a mention in Bush's State of the Union speech, which follows his administration's announcement that Alaska's polar bears will be added to the endangered species list because climate change is melting their icy habitat.
  • Energy -Democrats in Congress hope to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by eliminating some tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and natural gas industries and by imposing a new fee on certain oil and gas companies.

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