Bush speaks of big initiatives, small government

In a State of the Union address dominated by initiatives to jump-start the U.S. economy and warnings of impending war in Iraq, President Bush told most federal agencies and employees to expect lean times ahead.

"We gather in this chamber deeply aware of the decisive days that lie ahead," President Bush told assembled members of Congress.

In order to focus on waging war against terrorism and passing tax reductions at home, Bush urged Congress to "show some spending discipline in Washington, D.C." He said that under his budget proposal, set to be released next week, discretionary federal spending would rise by only 4 percent, a figure Bush said was tied to the average wage increase of Americans.

"Federal spending should not rise any faster than the paychecks of American families," the president said.

Bush boasted of reorganizing federal agencies and creating the Homeland Security Department to mobilize against terrorist threats to the United States. He noted that the administration has increased the federal presence at U.S. borders and hired 50,000 security screeners at airports. But he warned against increasing the federal role in other areas, such as health care.

"Instead of bureaucrats and trial lawyers and HMOs, let's put doctors, nurses and patients in charge of American medicine," he said.

At the same time, Bush proposed several specific new federal initiatives, including $6 billion for Project Bioshield, a program to offer vaccines and treatments against anthrax, ebola, botulism, plague and other deadly biological agents; a $450 million program to bring mentors to disadvantaged children; and $600 million for drug treatment efforts.

Bush also announced that he had directed the FBI, the CIA and Homeland Security to develop a Terrorist Threat Integration Center that would merge all intelligence related to terrorist activities in a single location.

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