As Secretaries Rice and Gates hit the road to sell the new U.S. strategy for Iraq, the Wall Street Journal's Greg Jaffe and Neil King Jr. report that they are "hammering the same message: that the cost of U.S. failure would be a stronger and increasingly aggressive Iran."
"Congressional Progressive Caucus chairwomen Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Out of Iraq Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will tout their legislation tomorrow calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq within six months," reports The Hill's Jacobs. LINK
While attending a Martin Luther King holiday event in San Francisco, Speaker Pelosi pushed back against the President's "60 Minutes" remarks and proclaimed --without much specificity -- the need for congressional oversight over President Bush's plan to add more troops to Iraq. The New York Sun's Gerstein has the story. LINK
In an interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt over the weekend, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said: "It's pretty hard to stop the president from building up with troops who are already there." In the end, Obey said, "this is going to stop when the Republican members of Congress go down to the White House the way they did with Nixon and Watergate and say: `Mr. President, the jig's up, the country isn't supporting this anymore and neither are we.' I hope it happens very soon because there is no point to seeing more Americans killed in a futile policy.'" LINK
Bush Administration agenda: State of the Union:
In their piece curtain-raising today's no-new Social Security taxes policy conference on Capitol Hill, Bloomberg's Matthew Benjamin and Kevin Carmichael have Grover Norquist saying: "'I talked to the president directly, who told me he would not do this,' referring to a possible increase in Social Security taxes." LINK
In every one of his State of the Union addresses, President Bush has pledged to wean the U.S. off foreign oil, report Bloomberg's Brendan Murray and Tina Seeley. "With the Democrats now in control of Congress, he may be able to start delivering on that promise." LINK
On the issue of health care, the Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon and Deborah Solomon are reporting that the "big new idea" in President Bush's State of the Union this year could involve "tax changes around employer-provided plans. While officials said major decisions are still being made, the White House tax proposal likely would cap some taxpayers' ability to exclude employer-provided health care from their income, as part of an effort to broaden availability of health-care insurance."
"Currently, health-care benefits aren't subject to federal income tax, no matter how generous the benefit -- a factor many economists have said has contributed to health-care inflation. The Bush administration is considering a change that would tax some executives' 'gold-plated' plans and possibly even affect some rank-and-file union members with particularly generous benefits. The savings would be used to pay for tax credits for lower-income people who buy their own health insurance or for state insurance pools, or both. The effect could be relatively small now but could grow over time."