News

Experts Contemplate What Bush’s Second Term Will Hold

U.S. President George W. Bush has outlined a series of ambitious domestic initiatives for his second term. But even with his own Republican Party controlling both houses of Congress, the president faces an uphill battle selling his legislative program.

Recent public opinion polls show most Americans are generally optimistic about the next four years under President Bush. With his November victory at the polls, the president is confident he'll be able to push through the bold initiatives he campaigned on.

"I've earned capital in this election and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I would spend it on, which is, you've heard the agenda, social security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror," said Mr. Bush.

Now, he faces the challenge of turning ideas into legislative reality.

Economic growth will remain a key priority for the president. Tax cuts were his primary tool for moving the economy forward in his first term. Paired with historically low interest rates, they produced a modest recovery from the economic downturn that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

But record budget deficits, the war in Iraq and the fighting in Afghanistan leave little for new domestic initiatives. And some economists warn borrowing even more money from international creditors runs considerable risk. They believe without new revenue streams, the deficit will grow unchecked.

The president's economic advisors see it quite differently, saying tax cuts stimulate economic growth, leading to greater government revenue to pay down the deficit and fund new programs.

Much of that growth will depend on factors difficult to anticipate, including oil prices and terrorism.

In running for reelection, the president campaigned hard on what he believed were his superior qualifications to keep the nation safe from terrorism after 9/11.

"The most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people,” he said.  “If our country shows any uncertainty or weakness in this decade the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch."

The president moved quickly after his November victory to further bolster homeland security, signing into law the most comprehensive reorganization of the nation's intelligence operations in more than half a century.

"Under this new law our vast intelligence enterprise will become more unified, coordinated and effective,” said President Bush.  “It will enable us to better do our duty, which is to protect the American people."

Better intelligence is just one aspect of homeland security. Thomas Mann, a political analyst with Washington's Brookings Institution, says there is still more to do.

"But now, we're worried a great deal about cargo containers, possibility of weapons coming in via that route, of the security of our borders, the positioning of our state and local first responders," noted Mr. Mann.

Many republicans in congress are expressing similar concerns, most notably on border security, and are demanding the president enact tighter immigration controls. In his final push to pass the massive intelligence overhaul bill, Mr. Bush promised he would. But doing so would collide with the president's own goal of granting temporary legal status to undocumented workers who have jobs. Political observers say a fight on this issue could put passage of his more ambitious domestic priorities at risk.

Reforming social security or simplifying the tax code would be a notable legislative achievement. But political analyst Tripp Baird of The Heritage Foundation suggests with as many as three of the Supreme Court's nine justices possibly stepping down, the president could best be remembered as the man who reshaped the nation's highest court.

"They're the third branch of government, and some say the most powerful because they're not elected, they're appointed and they're appointed for life or until they decide to step down,” he explained.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist has been ill with cancer and others are contemplating retirement. Should he have the opportunity to nominate a new justice, Mr. Bush says he favors those in the mold of the high court's staunchest political conservatives. Legal experts say a more conservative court could reverse many of the court's more liberal decisions including abortion rights and affirmative action.

And that, as much as anything in his two terms in office, would leave George W. Bush's mark on the country for years to come.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs