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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Bush’s track record: Some hits, many misses

A look at President Bush's track record of major initiatives from his State of the Union addresses and a budget address in 2001:
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A look at President Bush’s track record of major initiatives from his State of the Union addresses and a budget address in 2001:

Bush proposed one of the biggest tax cuts in history, a boost in
spending for environmental protection and health research, and the “No
Child Left Behind” education program. He also advocated a “faith-based
initiative” to transfer some government social programs to religious
and charitable organizations.

Congress passed his tax cut plan
and provided immediate rebates for most taxpayers. The education plan,
which emphasized standardized testing for both students and schools,
was enacted in 2002. When Congress did not pass the religious-based
measure, Bush administratively put some of its elements into force.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush pledged to push the fight
against terrorism beyond Afghanistan and warned of an “axis of evil”
made up of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. He asked Congress to pass an
energy bill to stimulate U.S. production, called for more fuel-cell
research, and proposed restoring “fast track” trade negotiating powers
that had lapsed.

Congress in October gave the president the
authorization he sought to use force in Iraq, if necessary. The energy
bill languished and little was done on the fuel-cell initiative.
Congress renewed presidential trade authority.

2003: He proposed
spending $15 billion to “turn the tide against AIDS,” particularly in
Africa. He proposed a far-reaching Medicare prescription-drug benefit.

The prescription drug measure was narrowly approved. Bush got only a fraction of the money he sought for combating AIDS.

Bush called on Congress to extend the Patriot Act, set to expire in
2005. With the budget deficit mushrooming, the president proposed few
new domestic initiatives. He backed a constitutional ban on same-sex

The gay-marriage proposal flared briefly as a campaign issue, then receded. The Patriot Act was not extended.

Bush proposed restructuring Social Security to allow younger workers to
divert some of their Social Security taxes into private investment
accounts _ in exchange for lower future guaranteed benefits. He vowed
to reform the tax code. He said his foreign-policy goal was to spread
democracy through the world, beginning with the Middle East. He again
asked for a Patriot Act extension.

Most remaining congressional
interest in the Social Security plan was washed away after Hurricane
Katrina and its soaring reconstruction costs. Bush’s tax-code overhaul
still awaits recommendations from the Treasury. Bush claimed victories
on bills limiting multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuits and
tightening bankruptcy rules. He narrowly got a Central American trade
agreement and finally saw passage of his energy bill, although without
the Alaska drilling provisions he wanted. Congress extended the Patriot
Act _ but only to Feb. 3.

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