By Andrew Noyes, National Journal’s Beltway Blogroll
White House spokesman Tony Snow told bloggers with “a wonkish inclination” this afternoon that the first half of President Bush’s State of the Union speech would focus on domestic policy and the second half would address foreign issues.
The president tonight will not spend much time on “the way forward in Iraq,” which he spoke publicly about last week, Snow said on a conference call with about 25 Internet pundits. But he will emphasize that the Democratic-led Congress has a chance to work with the White House “to get stuff done.”
Democrats should realize they can do “something constructive with their two years in charge of the House and Senate,” Snow said. “Simply saying ‘no’ to the president does not constitute a record of accomplishment,” he quipped.
The chief political initiative that Bush will address is getting a handle on spending and reducing the nation’s deficit. “He has a plan to make sure we have spending restraint,” Snow said. Bush will call for a balanced budget in five years.
The president will also draw attention to congressional earmarks, Snow said. He wants details of all the pork that gets shoveled into the federal budget made public. Bush hopes to cut earmarks in half and crack down on the practice of slipping them in “in the middle of the night.”
On energy policy, Bush will endorse a “20 in 10” plan – reducing gasoline dependency 20 percent in 10 years. An immigration reform proposal similar to the one he pitched last May will also have a spot in the speech. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and school choice will not be left behind, Snow added.
On the foreign policy front, Bush will talk about the war on terrorism, diplomacy and “other things that serve the national interest” that don’t fall neatly under the heading of military action, Snow said. Fighting the AIDS epidemic and malaria will also get a shout-out.
For “the whole schmegegge,” Snow advised bloggers on the call to visit the White House’s State of the Union page.