Bush defense Iraq policy, discusses domestic agenda in State of the Union speech - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Bush defense Iraq policy, discusses domestic agenda in State of the Union speech

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CAPITOL HILL - President Bush reached out to the Democratic majority in his state of the union address.

He opened his sixth address to Congress by recognizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Bush noted that he is the first president ever to address the body by saying "Madame Speaker." After congratulating Democrats, Bush said "Congress has changed, but our responsibilities have not."

Bush defended the build-up in Iraq and said that failure would be "grievous and far-reaching".

Democrats say they are prepared to respond by asserting that Republicans are no longer solely in charge of national policy, especially in Iraq.

After viewing a preview of the speech, Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb said Tuesday that Republicans don't have a plan for Iraq.  He said the president' plan is "more of a tactical adjustment".

Bush touted the country's job growth in his State of the Union address. Bush says with 7.2 million jobs created so far, the economy is "on the move." He says the way to keep  unemployment and inflation low and raise wages is with more "enterprise," not more  government.

He also unveiled his initiative called "20-10".  The program will call on Americans to reduce their gas consumption by 20 percent by the year 2017. 

White House Deputy Chief Joel Kaplan said the president will also ask to raise the amount of ethanol and other alternative fuels the government says must be produced.  The other 20 percent reduction, he said, will come from raising fuel economy standards in passenger cars.

However, for the new fuel mandates to be set, Bush will have to get approval from Congress.


Who was missing?

By tradition, a member of the president's cabinet forgoes attending the State of the Union address in case of an attack or accident.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is the one who stayed away from Capitol Hill tonight. His absence is a precaution against the entire administration being wiped out in a catastrophe. Veteran Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson stayed behind last year.

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