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Highlights of President Bush's 2004 State of the Union Address - 2004-01-21


The following are highlights of President Bush's 2004 State of the Union Address

- President Bush said the United States must continue to confront international terrorists and "regimes that harbor and support them." He said there has not been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil in more than two years. But he warned terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world.

- President Bush urged Congress to renew the Patriot Act, which is set to expire next year. The two year-old law makes it easier for police and prosecutors to monitor terrorist suspects, conduct searches and access intelligence information.

- In Iraq, Mr. Bush said the U.S.-led coalition is working with the Iraqi Governing Council to draft a basic law for the country, and a bill of rights. He said the coalition is working with Iraqis and the United Nations to prepare for transition to full Iraqi sovereignty by the end of June.

- Mr. Bush noted that some attending the State of the Union address did not support the war in Iraq. But he said the world without Saddam Hussein's regime is a better and safer place. He noted Libya's decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction.

- The president said the United States is pursuing a "forward strategy" of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. He vowed that the United States will confront "barriers of hateful propaganda" by challenging forces opposed to reform.

- Mr. Bush urged Congress to reform the nation's immigration laws. He restated his proposal for "a new temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing employers, where no American can be found to fill the job." But he insisted the program does not amount to a blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants.

- President Bush said the U.S. economy is growing stronger because of tax cuts he proposed and Congress passed. He urged Congress to make the tax cuts permanent.

- The president said he plans to send Congress a budget that funds the war on terror, and meets important domestic needs while holding down discretionary spending. He said that by making wise decisions, the U.S. budget deficit can be cut in half over the next five years.

- Mr. Bush urged Congress to act to contain rapidly rising health care costs and to make it easier for small businesses to band together to negotiate for lower health insurance rates. He called for a refundable tax credit that would enable lower-income Americans to buy their own basic health insurance.

- The president defended his federal education policy, saying funding to schools has expanded by 36 percent since he took office three years ago. He praised the federal No Child Left Behind Law, which aims to reach higher educational standards through tougher testing and accountability criteria.