President's State of the Union Focuses on Economy

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

President Bush, in his final State of the Union address, urged passage of an anti-recession plan, saying that "we can all see that growth is slowing."

President Bush, standing before Congress one last time, urged the nation to stay confident against gnawing recession fears.

Bush called on lawmakers to urgently approve a $150 billion plan -- worked out with House leaders -- to stave off recession through tax rebates for families and incentives for businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.

And he called on lawmakers not to load up the bill with add-ons that would delay or derail the bill. Senate Democrats want to expand the economic rescue plan with rebates for senior citizens living off Social Security and extensions of unemployment benefits for the jobless.

Bush is also pushing Congress to extend his tax cuts, which are
to expire in 2010. And he pledges to veto any tax increase.

During the State of the Union address, President Bush also talked about the war in Iraq. He said while the U.S. troops in Iraq are hitting enemies in Iraq hard, they are still not defeated and there will be tough fighting ahead. Still he looks forward to bringing more than 20,000 troops home.

Bush said American troops are shifting from leading operations to partnering with Iraqi forces and eventually to a protective overwatch mission.

He noted that as part of the transition, one Army brigade combat
team and one Marine Expeditionary Unit have already come home and
will not be replaced. He said in coming months, four additional
brigades and two Marine battalions will follow suit.

But he cautioned that any further drawdown of U.S. troops will
be based on conditions in Iraq and the recommendations of our
commanders.

He said General David Petraeus has warned that too fast a drawdown could result in the "disintegration of the Iraqi Security Forces" with "al-Qaida Iraq regaining lost ground" leading to "a marked increase in violence."

He said members of Congress must not allow it to happen.

Bush says the surge has worked and because of it, Iraqis are confident the U.S. will not abandon them.


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