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Bush Seeks Support For Domestic Programs - 2002-02-12


President Bush says the determination Americans have shown in fighting terrorism must now be applied to the nation's domestic problems. He went to the midwestern city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to urge action on health care reform.

The President has been traveling a great deal in recent weeks, trying to take his popularity as a wartime commander-in-chief and turn it into support for his domestic proposals.

Each speech begins the same way, with comments on the war effort. "Either we defend freedom so that our children and grandchildren grow up in a peaceful world, or we blink," he said. "And if we blink, the rest of the world will blink as well. I don't believe we have that luxury. I believe we must find terror wherever it hides and bring it to justice." In Milwaukee, Mr. Bush urged the nation to "seize the moment" to build on the spirit of unity seen in combating terrorism. He said Americans should come together to tackle the nation's domestic problems, such as the need to reform the health care system.

"There is no doubt in my mind that with the right reforms, the right philosophy, a philosophy of trust in people, that America will remain on the cutting edge," he said.

The problem is not so much the quality of medical services but the high cost of health care especially for those on limited incomes or with no access to insurance. Mr. Bush does not favor government-sponsored health care. But he does say much more can and should be done to make medical services more accessible for the 39 million uninsured Americans, and more affordable for all.

"The role of government health reform is to fix the system where it is failing, while preserving the quality and innovation of a private, patient-centered medical system," he said. His approach puts him at odds with congressional Democrats, who seek a more vigorous government role. The issue could be important in a congressional election year that is crucial to the two major political parties in the United States. Republicans currently have a slim majority in the House of Representatives, while Democrats narrowly run the Senate. Both hope to win total control of the legislature in November.

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