Tony Snow held a blogger conference to provide a preview of tonight’s State of the Union address. As usual, there will be a domestic half and a foreign policy half. The president will lead off, following a special acknowledgement of Nancy Pelosi, with the domestic side. His main topics will be (1) getting a handle on spending in order to balance the budget in five years, (2) entitlement reform, (3) an energy plan to reduce gasoline consumption and double our strategic petroleum reserve, (4) market-based health care reform (tax deductions for people who buy health care on their own; state created risk pool), (5) extend and revise No Child Left Behind, and (6) comprehensive immigration reform.
I suspect that the only item which will garner the required Democratic support is immigration reform. As I said the day after the election, the big winners were illegal immigrants. The president’s ideas on health care reform, while probably quite worthwhile, strike me as a non-starter. The Democrats can sense the prospect of pushing through universal health care after the next election; they aren’t about to try to improve the current system in the interim.
On the foreign policy side, Snow says the president won’t rehash his speech on the surge. Instead, he’ll focus on the bigger picture of the war on terrorism, but that will include an explanation of why our action in Iraq is tied to that bigger picture. Bush apparently will also talk about how our overall efforts have led to progress elsewhere — presumably in Libya, Lebanon, and Afghanistan. If I understood correctly (Tony talks very fast), Bush will also cite positive developments with respect to North Korea and Iran, and will suggest a way forward — a “carrot” if you will — for the Iranians. When it comes to the “stick,” he apparently he will not go further than he did in the “surge” speech.
UPDATE: David Frum had presented his four “hopes” for the president’s speech: (1) downplay immigration reform, (2) highlight market-based health care reform ideas, (3) talk about Iran’s role in Iraq, and (4) avoid energy “gimmicks” and rely on the market to drive down gasoline consumption. It sounds like Frum will be happy with respect to (2), unhappy with respect to (1) and (4), and maybe somewhere in between on (3).
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