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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs