State of the Union Reality Check


WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2005 — -- During his first term, President Bush made a number of significant proposals in his annual State of the Union addresses -- many of which have been fulfilled.

In his 2001 speech, Bush successfully pushed his plan to improve the country's education standards. "We must tie funding to higher standards and accountability for results," Bush said.

That proposal became law in 2002 with the No Child Left Behind Act, which was funded with more than $20 billion and expanded the federal role in education.

The president has successfully pushed for many big proposals in previous State of the Union addresses -- including $1.6 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years, a crackdown on corporate malfeasance, an additional $120 billion for the military and homeland security, and a new drug benefit for seniors.

As Bush said in his 2003 address: "All seniors should have the choice of a health-care plan that provides prescription drugs."

State of the Union addresses are full of big ideas, but when it's time to get something done, some are more important than others.

In 2002, Bush made a pledge to enact a patients' bill of rights that would help uninsured workers afford health coverage. The proposal was a failure, however, as were promises to change the country's energy policy.

Additionally, despite Bush's stated goal to make the country less dependent on foreign oil, America is now more dependent on foreign oil than when he took office.

Some goals remain unfinished, no matter how often the president has pushed for their completion.

In three consecutive addresses, Bush urged Congress to make income tax reductions permanent.

"I am proposing that all the income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent," said Bush in 2003. That has yet to happen.

All those proposals cost money, which creates problems for another one of Bush's priorities -- decreasing the deficit.

"We can cut the deficit in half over the next five years," he said in 2004.

But the Congressional Budget Office projects the federal deficit will total a record $855 billion over the next decade, not including the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though Bush has emphasized fiscal discipline.

"Unrestrained government spending is a dangerous road to deficits," said Bush in his 2001 speech, "so we must take a different path."

But according to a conservative analyst at the Heritage Foundation think tank, "spending has increased twice as fast under President Bush as it did under President Clinton."

That will no doubt complicate all the new spending -- and new promises -- the president will propose in his 2005 State of the Union address.

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