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Bush Avoids Most Budget Issues in State of the Union Address

President Bush steered clear of most fiscal issues during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

After announcing that "the tax relief you passed is working" early in his speech, the president went on to urge citizens to petition Congress to make the tax cuts passed in 2001, 2002 and 2003 permanent. As it stands now, virtually all the tax cuts instituted under this administration are due to expire in two to six years.

In an attempt to revive a suggestion first floated more than a year ago, , President Bush made a passing reference to his administration's proposal to allow workers to divert some of their payroll taxes from Social Security and instead invest the money in individual private accounts. This idea never gained any traction in Congress.

"We should make the Social Security system a source of ownership," Bush said. Analysts have put the cost of the various administration plans at as much as $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

In addressing health care policy, Bush also noted that health care premiums should be 100% deductible, but that "a government-run health care system is the wrong prescription."

The president mentioned a few spending programs -- such as a $430 million program to aid prisoners that have completed their sentence to acclimate to society -- but ignored other proposals, such as his $12 billion plan to expand the space program.

The president also promised to limit discretionary spending to 4%, claiming that by doing so the federal government will be able to cut the federal deficit in half in five years.

The current deficit is about $500 billion.

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