President Bush is preparing for his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening. The president has three priorities for the coming year - fighting terrorism abroad, protecting Americans at home, and bringing the economy out of recession.
President Bush says the most important thing he can do to help the economy is to prevent another terrorist attack. His address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday will focus on a budget that he says can accomplish that by enhancing American security with the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years.
"The war on terror is going on and we are going to win. And we have got to make sure we spend enough money to win," he says. "It is also one that prioritizes homeland security. It is also one that wants to do something about our economy, a stimulus bill. It's a bill that sets priorities."
Mr. Bush will be asking Congress to "spend what it takes" to win the war against terrorism, with new investments in precision weapons, missile defense and soldier salaries. He will ask Congress for $38 billion for homeland security to hire another 300 FBI agents and tens of thousands of new airport security workers, while providing more training and equipment for state and local firefighters, police and emergency workers.
Congressional Democrats have largely supported the president's extra spending on security, following the September 11 attacks, but they have been less willing to pass parts of his domestic agenda, including an economic stimulus plan. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said it is the president's hope that will change in the coming year. "One of the things that I think the president would very much like to see is if that same spirit of unity that has guided members of Congress in their approach to defense and foreign policy can now be applied on the domestic front," says Mr. Fleischer.
President Bush says his economic plan is crucial to helping the economy recover from recession. Congressional Democrats say the plan's tax cuts unfairly favor big business over unemployed workers.
There has been some progress on the economic plan leading up to the State of Union address, with Senate Majority Leader Democrat Tom Daschle saying he will move forward with parts of the plan both sides agree on, including the extension of unemployment benefits nationwide.