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Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Memorable moments from the State of the Union address

January 24, 2007

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— Here are highlights from the State of the Union address and its reception, at a glance:

¢ Speech theme: "We are not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences and achieve big things for the American people."

¢ A historic moment: Bush paid tribute to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by noting that he was the first president to open a State of the Union message with the words "Madam Speaker."

¢ President Bush on the Iraq escalation: "In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success."

¢ Democratic response on Iraq: "The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought, nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction." (Sen. James Webb, D-Va.)

¢ Bush on the economy: "We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth. ... Unemployment is low, inflation is low and wages are rising. This economy is on the move."

¢ Democratic response on the economy: "Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth. ... College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas." (Webb)

¢ Domestic policy priorities: Cut U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years; give tax break to individuals purchasing health insurance and tax as income generous employer-provided health insurance; extend No Child Left Behind education act; enact comprehensive immigration overhaul law.

¢ Best line from critics: "The best news is that the president has left the Flat Earth Society on global warming. Unfortunately, he is not taking action that would help curb global warming." (Dan Becker, Sierra Club)

¢ Biggest nonstarter in speech: "With enough good sense and good will, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid - and save Social Security."

¢ Emptiest gesture: "I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war of terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties."

¢ In the gallery: Wesley Autrey, the construction worker who saved a man who fell onto the New York subway tracks; Dikembe Mutombo, an NBA All-Star with the Houston Rockets, and five Iraqi veterans were among the guests seated with first lady Laura Bush.

¢ No show: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. By tradition, a member of the Cabinet skips the speech to ensure continuity of government if disaster strikes at the Capitol.

¢ What's next: Bush travels today to Wilmington, Del., to tout his plans to expand medical insurance coverage. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to approve a nonbinding bipartisan resolution opposing a U.S. troop increase in Iraq. Bush is expected to ignore it.

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