Bush to call for sharp cutback in gas consumption - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Bush to call for sharp cutback in gas consumption

President Bush, in Tuesday's State of the Union address, will propose a plan to cut U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent while bolstering inventory in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Republican sources say.

The president's plan to cut gasoline use includes tightening fuel economy standards on automakers and relying on alternative energy sources, such as hybrid cars, the sources say.

Bush would propose achieving the 20-percent cut in gasoline use in the next 10 years, according to the sources. He will also propose the U.S. produce 35 billion gallons of renewable fuel such as ethanol by 2017, according an official who was briefed on the speech.

Bush will say increasing the oil reserve will give the nation a reliable backup in times of crisis, the sources say.

On other topics, Bush will propose a balanced federal budget by 2012, and will call for members of Congress to cut pet projects from appropriations. Health care, Social Security, AIDS in Africa, and, of course, Iraq are expected to be addressed during what is expected to be about a 50-minute speech.

When the president stands before Congress and the nation Tuesday night, he'll be facing an angry citizenry dissatisfied with his leadership by a 2-to-1 ratio.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, released on the eve of the speech, found only 34 percent of respondents approved of Bush's job performance while 63 percent disapproved.

Two-thirds of respondents say that Bush has done something to make them angry -- a figure that has grown six points since last year and 16 points since Bush's State of the Union in 2004.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said Bush's presidency is a failure, and 51 percent said they trust Bush less than they trusted his predecessor in the Oval Office, Bill Clinton. (The numbers on trust -- PDF)

And Bush should not expect the State of the Union to help his image, if history is any guide. Since 1952, presidents have lost about half a percentage point, on average, from their approval ratings after State of the Union speeches. Bush's approval rating dropped two points after last year's State of the Union.

The president's approval has changed little in recent days, the poll found. On January 11, it was 35 percent and, in mid-December, it was 36 percent. Last January, it was 43 percent.

The poll was carried out Friday through Sunday and was based on telephone interviews with 1,008 adult Americans. It has a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 points.

The CNN/Opinion Research findings echo an Associated Press-AOL News poll conducted January 16-18 that put the president's approval rating at 36 percent.

In that AP poll, Americans listed health care, the economy and Iraq as the issues that concern them the most.

On health care, Bush will put forth a plan to make health insurance taxable income and give families a deduction on the first $15,000 in health insurance costs ($7,500 for singles), White House spokesman Tony Snow said Monday.

Speaking on CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday, Snow said Bush's plan "offers an opportunity to open up the health care system in a way that it's never had before."

Snow said the effect will be similar to what happened when market forces were let loose on prescription drug prices.

"You get major retailers fighting ... to provide medicine as cheaply as possible and at the same time effectively," he explained. "Prices are one-third lower than people expected."

Snow said Monday that Bush's "revenue-neutral" proposal on health care would boost costs for some people but would also raise the prospect that more than 100 million people "will pay less for health insurance and millions more not presently insured will have access to it."

Democrats, however, charge that turning health benefits into taxable income will raise the taxes of millions of Americans. And Republicans with close ties to the White House are concerned the plan is so confusing that the Democratic allegations will stick.

"They're already having problems explaining it," one senior Republican strategist said of the White House. "The president is going to have to explain it very well."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Bush's plan would hurt people who have health insurance.

"I think if we ask anyone in America today... if we oughta, in effect, punish people because they have great insurance, I don't think they'd agree with that," Reid said Tuesday.

While senior officials suggested last week that Iraq would be a small part of the speech, one official said Monday that Iraq would now be a "significant portion" of the address.

The Republicans' November loss of a majority in Congress will not deter the president from addressing big issues, Snow said.

The president "understands his obligation as commander in chief is to go ahead and address forthrightly big problems and come up with solutions." (Quiz: Test your State of the Union knowledge)

Source: CNN Newsource


Powered by Frankly