Utahns' reaction on A2 and B1.Thirteen days after war erupted against Iraq, President Bush promised no quick or easy end - but rallied Americans Tuesday saying only they can lead the world against the "brutal dictator" Saddam Hussein.
"Among the nations of the world, only the United States of America has had both the moral standing and the means to back it up. We are the only nation on this earth that could assemble the forces of peace," Bush said in his State of the Union address.He said America's vigilance for freedom also has led to new Soviet assurances they would withdraw "some" troops from Baltic states and reopen dialogue with those republics. (Story on A3.)
Bush also asked Americans to use their same sense of "serving some purpose higher than ourselves" to "meet some our toughest challenges at home" as he also unveiled plans for numerous new domestic programs.
They include seeking transfer of $15 billion of federal programs to the states with full funding; announcing the budget to be released next week will increase spending less than the rate of inflation; calling for a bipartisan study of cutting the capital gains tax; proposing bank reform; and sketching national energy goals.
Bush also wants children to be able to attend the school of their choice, called for a tax-exempt family savings account, called for helping tenants to own their public housing projects, endorsed term limits and called for elimination of campaign donations from special-interest political action committees.
But most of the emotion and focus of Bush's address were aimed at the war.
Congress interrupted his speech with a standing ovation for nearly three minutes when he spoke of his devotion to "every soldier and sailor, every Marine, airman and Coastguardsman - every man and woman now serving in the Persian Gulf."
Bush himself interrupted his speech to applaud Brenda Schwarzkopf, wife of allied commander H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who sat in the House gallery next to Barbara Bush representing the families of all soldiers in the Middle East.
Bush said, "We will prevail. Tonight, I'm pleased to report that we are on course. Iraq's capacity to sustain war is being destroyed. Our investment, our training, our planning - all are paying off. Time will not be Saddam's salvation."
He added, "Most Americans know instinctively why we are in the gulf. They know we had to stop Saddam now, not later. They know this brutal dictator will do anything; will use any weapon; will commit any outrage, now matter how many innocents suffer."
Also after controversy in recent days about whether the United States should target Saddam personally, Bush used the word "dead" three times in one paragraph describing Saddam.
"If he thinks that by targeting innocent civilians in Israel and Saudi Arabia that he will gain advantage - he is dead wrong. If he thinks that he will advance his cause through tragic and despicable environmental terrorism - he is dead wrong. And if he thinks that by abusing the coalition POWs he will benefit - he is dead wrong."
Bush hinted U.S. involvement in the Middle East may not end when this war does. "We all realize that our responsibility to be the catalyst for peace in the region does not end with the successful conclusion of this war."
Bush also said the world is at a "defining moment" amid "the winds of change" that will shape the world well into the next century.
"What is at stake is more than one small country; it is a big idea: a new world order - where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause, to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind: peace and security, freedom and the rule of law."
Bush said America's two centuries of inspiring freedom and democracy worldwide led to the end of the Cold War and reunification of Germany in the past year. And said the Soviets just agreed to withdraw some forces from the Baltic states, reopen dialogue and move away from violence.
And as a lesson from the two weeks of war so far, Bush announced he is refocusing the decade-old Strategic Defensive Initiative to protect against limited ballistic threats - such as Iraqi Scud missiles - not just an all-out nuclear war.
"Let us pursue an SDI program that can deal with any future threat to the United States, to our forces overseas and to our friends and allies," he said.
Bush said the "hard work of freedom" is not only overseas, but also at home.
"The state of our union is the union of each of us, one to the other: the sum of our friendships, marriages, families and communities. We all have something to give.
"So if you know how to read, find someone who can't. If you've got a hammer, find a nail. If you're not hungry, not lonely, not in trouble - seek out someone who is. Join the community of conscience. Do the hard work of freedom. That will define the state of our union."
Bush made several announcements about domestic programs, although he provided few specific details about them, including:
- He is optimistic about the economy despite the current recession. "We will get this recession behind us and return to growth - soon." He noted the nation has no double-digit inflation, and businesses are exporting at record rates.
- The budget he will submit next week "holds the growth in spending to less than the rate of inflation."
- The budget will include turning over to states at least $15 billion in programs, fully funded in a single consolidated grant to allow flexible management. "It allows the federal government to reduce overhead . . .. It moves power and decisionmaking closer to the people."
- "My budget again includes tax-free family savings accounts, penalty-free withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts for first-time homebuyers; and, to increase jobs and growth, a reduced tax for long-term capital gains," Bush said.
- Because most Democrats oppose a cut in the capital gains tax, Bush proposed a bipartisan study to be led by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to sort out differences on such a tax cut.
- He will propose legislation "enabling parents to choose their children's schools."
- He will soon unveil "a comprehensive National Energy Strategy that calls for energy conservation and efficiency, increased development and greater use of alternative fuels."
- He will soon introduce a "banking reform plan to bring America's financial system into the 21st century - so that our banks remain safe and secure."
- He called for tenant control and ownership of public housing, and for enterprise zones to encourage investment in inner cities.
- Bush called for protection of equal rights "without resorting to the use of unfair preferences" - a slap at Democratic civil rights bills he claims would create racial hiring quotas.
- He said the attorney general will soon convene a crime summit of the nation's top law enforcement officials, and he will call for tough crime legislation.
- He endorsed term limits saying it is time to revive "the ideal of the citizen politician who comes not to stay, but to serve."
- Bush called for total elimination of PACs to help end concern about big-money influence in politics. "We must look beyond the next election to the next generation."