As President George W. Bush addresses lawmakers and the American people in his final State of the Union speech tonight, among his goals will be to boost the nation's economy, reauthorize education and anti-terrorism surveillance laws, maintain active support for war in Iraq and diversify the nation's energy supply.
The President's annual address before lawmakers in Washington, will start tonight at 9 p.m. EST and is scheduled run for about 40 minutes. Its first half will focus on domestic issues with the second half covering foreign policy.
The speech is locked down and he feels pretty comfortable with it, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters today.
When asked if tonight's speech could be a way to shape the President's legacy, Perino said that it is not. Instead it is a very forward-looking speech.
The President doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about that. Look, the President thinks his legacy will shake itself out when people look at the record, and history will tell.
On the economic front the President will ask the Senate not to delay or derail passage of a $150 billion economic stimulus package consisting of tax rebates to boost consumer spending and business investment. The plan also allows the two largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies to temporarily raise the price limit of the mortgages they can buy from $417,000 to $729,750 to help the ailing mortgage industry.
For the foreign policy portion he will focus a significant amount of time talking about Iraq and the Middle East peace process. He will call on Congress to give its full support to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, reiterating that he will listen to the military commanders on the ground when it deciding how many soldiers should remain.
It will be a chance for the President to remind people what Iraq looked like a year ago and because of the gains that we've had, even though there are still troubling times ahead and very tough fighting we can expect, she said.
The President will push for the reauthorization of educational reform made into law in 2001 with the No Child Left Behind Act, which consists of various programs to improve the performance of public school students by increasing accountability, standardized testing and parent choice for schools. He will also touch upon the energy needs of the country.
He will also ask Congress to reauthorize the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a part of the President's anti-terrorism drive which has been criticized for curtailing civil freedoms. The president will also mention the polarizing issue of immigration reform which Congressional leaders have not been able to agree upon. Perino said the president is aware that that's not going to happen this year.
The President will call for increased use of clean energy technology, increasing the domestic supply of oil. He will also advocate for reducing greenhouse gases by working with nations through the UN to reach an international agreement.
In a new development, President Bush will say that he will veto any spending bill for 2009 which Congress sends him that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks or provisions that aren't subject to a vote by lawmakers or public scrutiny.
Tomorrow, he will also issue an executive order to federal government agencies telling them to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on and included in a law approved by Congress, according to a White House statement.
The President will say that if these spending items are worthy, Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote, she said.