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Bush Eager to Start New Year, Complete Work as President

President Bush says he is eager to get back to work after starting the new year with family friends on his Texas ranch. VOA White House correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

Before returning to the White House, Mr. Bush told reporters in Texas that he and First Lady Laura Bush wish Americans a happy and healthy 2008.

"I particularly want to say something to our troops and their families: This country respects you, we admire you and we wish you a great 2008, as well," he said. "We have just come off the ranch; had a good rest and good New Year's with some friends. And I am looking forward to getting back to Washington to work on policies to keep this country safe and to keep this country prosperous."

White House officials say the president plans to work against tax increases and higher government spending in order to stay on the path to a balanced budget. Mr. Bush also wants Congress to re-authorize an education program that requires more testing.

Outside America, President Bush says he is working toward a two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian violence and will begin a busy travel schedule with a trip to the Middle East next week.