Bush's main proposals and their chances in Congress
WASHINGTON -- Summaries of President Bush's main proposals in his State of the Union address and how they might fare in Congress: * ENERGY: Cut U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent by 2017 by boosting mandates for production of ethanol and oth...
WASHINGTON -- Summaries of President Bush's main proposals in his State of the Union address and how they might fare in Congress:
* ENERGY: Cut U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent by 2017 by boosting mandates for production of ethanol and other alternative fuels. Also, raise fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs. Let the transportation secretary set the standard, not Congress. Double the oil-storage capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over 20 years to 1.5 billion barrels.
OUTLOOK: Congress is likely to boost its support for alternative fuels. Raising fuel-efficiency standards could be more difficult politically, but it's possible.
* GLOBAL WARMING: Cut emissions from cars and light trucks by 10 percent over 10 years by reducing gasoline consumption and improving fuel efficiency. The president's goal is to stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. motor vehicles by 2017.
OUTLOOK: Congress may go along with these goals, but Democrats want a more ambitious program to combat global warming than Bush has ever been willing to support. Watch for lots of hearings on the issue in an effort to build support for more aggressive programs in the post-Bush years.
* HEALTH INSURANCE: Make employer-provided health insurance taxable income after a standard deduction of $15,000 for families and $7,500 for singles. Redirect money from Medicare and Medicaid and hospital spending toward new grants to states to help subsidize health insurance for individuals.
OUTLOOK: Faces uphill battle. Some key Democrats oppose it as insufficient help to the poor and burdensome to the middle class. Some union leaders oppose it as a threat to employer-based health insurance. Some health-care experts said it could be the basis of a compromise plan if all sides are flexible.
* IMMIGRATION: Pass a comprehensive overhaul of immigration law. Create a temporary "guest-worker" program. Provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, including making them pay fines and learn English. Continue stiff border enforcement.
OUTLOOK: Possible. Democrats favor comprehensive change, but exact terms could prove sticky. Senate Republicans could hold the key: Will they go along with letting illegal immigrants apply for legal status, or will they try to block it? Labor unions and other Democratic constituent groups could impede any agreement on a guest-worker program. This is probably the best prospect for bipartisan agreement on a major policy area over the next two years.
* IRAQ: Expand U.S. forces by 21,500 to help Iraqis quell sectarian violence in Baghdad and insurgent-infested Anbar province. Press the Iraqi government to make measurable progress on benchmarks toward a political settlement to strengthen public support for it.
OUTLOOK: Both houses of Congress are expected to pass nonbinding resolutions of no confidence in Bush's troop buildup, but Congress isn't expected at this time to cut off money for the plan, which leaves the president able to carry it out.
* EDUCATION: Renew the No Child Left Behind Act, which sets federal test standards for elementary school children.
OUTLOOK: Congress may fight or change this law. Some key lawmakers say No Child Left Behind's mandates are woefully underfunded and that some portions of the law need to be revised. Teachers unions and civil-rights groups -- key Democratic constituencies -- complain that the act puts too high a premium on testing and not enough on critical thinking.
* STRONGER MILITARY: Boost the number of service members by 92,000 over five years. Add 65,000 soldiers to the Army, raising the total to 547,000. Add 27,000 Marines, bringing the total to 202,000.
OUTLOOK: Congress is expected to support the increase and share concerns that the force has been stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
* RESTRAIN SPENDING: Balance the budget by 2012. Cut "earmark" spending projects' cost in half this year. Make identities of earmark sponsors more transparent.
OUTLOOK: The new Congress is disclosing earmark sponsors and vowing to restrain the practice. Its leaders also vow fiscal restraint and rules to enforce it, but balancing the budget in five years would still be difficult.
* AIDS/MALARIA: Sustain the five-year, $15 billion program to fight AIDS worldwide, especially in 15 target countries. Sustain the five-year, $1.2 billion program to fight malaria in 15 hard-hit African countries.
OUTLOOK: These programs have bipartisan support and are likely to remain well-funded.