Bush plans to promote domestic policies
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush said he plans to address key areas of his domestic policy next week -- Social Security, energy and health care for seniors.
Speaking Saturday in his weekly radio address, Bush said he will speak to young people in Pennsylvania on Tuesday about Social Security, on Wednesday in Washington about energy and Thursday and Friday about health care for older Americans.
The upcoming weeks mark an important point in Bush's attempts to push his second-term domestic agenda during a period when most recent opinion polls place his approval ratings in the mid-40 percent range -- nearing the lowest of his presidency.
"We must act now to strengthen and modernize Social Security," Bush said of his proposed changes to the 70-year-old national program, reiterating what has been at the forefront of his second-term domestic agenda.
"Our young people understand that if we fail to act, Social Security will not be sound when we need it. They know that millions of baby boomers about to retire will live longer and collect benefits that the system cannot afford."
Opponents to Bush's sweeping overhaul of the Social Security program, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, believe the president's plans will make matters worse.
"We can solve the long-term challenge without dismantling Social Security, and without allowing this administration's false declaration of a crisis to justify a privatization that is unnecessary, unaffordable and unwise," Pelosi said in February, shortly after Bush unveiled his plans to change the program.
On Wednesday Bush will reiterate his recent emphasis on energy policy and urge Congress to act on an energy bill that will diminish the United States' dependence on foreign oil.
He said: "Today's high energy prices are like a tax that drags on our economy. We must ensure that American families and small businesses have access to a reliable supply of affordable energy.
"The House has passed a good energy bill; now the American people expect the Senate to act. For the sake of our economic and national security, Congress needs to get a good energy bill to my desk by August."
On Thursday and Friday, Bush intends to address health care for senior citizens, and in particular promote new prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients.
Seniors will be able to enroll this November for the program, which will begin in January, Bush said.
"The plan will provide many options for dependable prescription drug coverage through Medicare," he added.
Both Republicans and Democrats have balked at recent projections that show the new Medicare law, signed in 2003, will cost $723 billion for the next 10 years.
Bush also urged Congress not to change his budget plan. "Congress needs to keep your taxes low and be wise with taxpayers' dollars," he said.
Bush's tax cuts eased the tax burden on all income groups, but shifted more of it to the middle class. Opponents, including Sen. John Kerry, Bush's Democratic challenger in the 2004 election, favor a plan that repeals the tax cut on individuals who make $200,000 or more.