Bush Outlines Agenda for Second Term
A minority president no more, President Bush sketched a second-term agenda Thursday that includes fighting the worldwide war on terror and seeking tax overhaul and fundamental changes in Social Security at home. “I’ve earned capital in this election and I’m going to spend it for what I’ve told the people I’d spend it on,” he said. Bush also pledged to pursue the foreign policy that was a flashpoint in the presidential campaign and has sparked criticism by some American allies in Europe.
Bush sidestepped questions about changes in his Cabinet and potential vacancies in the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice William Rehnquist recently disclosed he was undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer. “I haven’t made any decisions on the Cabinet yet,” Bush said. Nor about his top staff, he added. Changes are widely expected in both, possibly at the Justice Department and State Department. As for the nation’s highest court, he said, “There’s no vacancy for the Supreme Court and I will deal with a vacancy when there is one.”
For the second straight day, he pledged to reach out to those who opposed his re-election. “The campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I will reach out to every one who shares our goals,” he said. “Democrats want a free and peaceful world,” he said at one point.
Turning his attention to the new Congress, where Republicans gained seats in Tuesday’s elections, he said he wants legislation to fundamentally reorder Social Security and the tax system. Bush has long advocated changes in Social Security to permit workers to invest a portion of their own payroll taxes in individual retirement accounts. The proposal is intensely controversial, and opposed by many Democrats who argue it would undermine the finances of a system originally established to provide pensions to retirees. “I earned capital in the campaign and now I intend to spend it,” he said. “And I’m going to spend it for what I told the people I would spend it on.”
One advantage of re-electing a president is that there’s no extended lame duck and transition period. He can get to work now; I’m glad to see that he’s doing it.