ad info ad info

Acting on his agenda

(CNN) -- On 100 days into his administration, President George W. Bush has moved on several key initiatives that he campaigned on but also has been forced to deal with other issues. Below is a look at Bush's domestic agenda as well as some of the other items Bush will likely face in the coming months.

TAX CUTS: Probably the administration's top agenda item, Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut made it through the House of Representatives, but the package ran into difficulty in the evenly divided Senate. Bush got only one Democrat to support his tax cut, U.S. Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, and he ran into trouble with some moderate GOP senators, including Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont. The Senate eventually trimmed roughly $450 billion from Bush's proposed $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax package and added more spending than the president wanted.

Congressional and White House negotiators agreed Tuesday to a tax cut of $1.35 trillion over 11 years, including $100 billion this year. On Wednesday, the negotiators agreed to a 5 percent spending increase this year, up from the 4 percent that Bush said was necessary. Despite the cuts in what he proposed, Bush hailed the agreement as including "reasonable levels of spending."

FAITH-BASED INITIATIVE: One of Bush's signature issues on the campaign trail last year was increasing the ability of faith-based organizations to use government funding for social programs. Once in office, Bush signed an executive order creating the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which is focused solely on helping religious or "faith-based" groups obtain federal tax dollars. He sent legislation to Capitol Hill that would allow religious groups to compete with secular organizations for federal dollars to fund social programs and that would expand tax deductions for charitable donations, and directed five federal agencies to investigate how faith-based groups could effectively participate in government programs.

Liberal critics oppose the initiative on grounds it will violate the constitutional separation of church and state. But the administration was surprised by criticism from religious conservatives, who expressed concerns the government would try influence their message and worries that groups other than mainstream religion organizations would receive funding.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Reforming the nation's campaign finance laws became a major issue during the 2000 Republican primaries, thanks to Bush's main opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. While McCain lost to Bush, the contest pushed the campaign finance issue further into the public spotlight, helping McCain get the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. After years of failure, the Senate in April passed the bill, which would double to $2,000 the cap on so-called "hard money," or direct donations to candidates, and eliminate the unlimited "soft money" donations to political parties. The measure also would restrict private groups from airing issue ads that target a specific candidate in the 60 days before a general election and 30 days before a primary.

The bill now goes to the House, which has passed similar versions in past years. However, the bill faces determined opposition from House GOP leaders. Bush supported a rival bill, which would not have completely banned soft money, and has been noncommittal about whether he would sign McCain's bill, saying he wanted to see the legislation in its final form before making a decision.

THE ENVIRONMENT: New environmental regulations issued by President Bill Clinton in his final days in office forced Bush to focus unexpectedly on the environment. The administration initially sought to delay or abandon the new regulations. Environmental activists were galvanized by Bush's retreat on a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and the decision by Bush to abandon the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the United States had signed but not ratified. The protocol requires developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are believed to contribute to global warming.

Those issues, combined with Bush's push to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, led to increasing criticism that the Bush administration was engaged in a rollback of environmental laws that was out of tune with his pledge to be a "compassionate conservative." Since mid-April, though, the administration has changed course and announced it would implement some of the Clinton regulations despite industry opposition.

BIPARTISANSHIP: Bush promised to "change the tone" in the nation's capital by emphasizing bipartisanship and working with Democrats. Bush did reach out to Democrats in the initial days, attending a congressional retreat organized by Democrats and inviting many prominent Democrats, including Sen. Ted Kennedy, to the White House.

But he also clashed with Democrats on issues -- the passage of a bankruptcy bill supported by Bush and opposed by Democrats, the speedy passage of Bush's tax cut through the House and what Democrats saw as a hastily scheduled vote to repeal workplace safety rules issued in the Clinton administration. In response to the workplace safety vote, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt on March 7 declared the "end" of bipartisanship.

EDUCATION: Bush sent an education bill to Congress just six days after being inaugurated. The bill includes initiatives giving states more flexibility over how to spend federal education dollars and would hold individual schools accountable for their performance by testing students on reading and math more regularly. Schools whose students do not show acceptable signs of improvement on those tests would be given every opportunity to turn their failure rates around. After three years without significant improvement, however, Bush's bill calls for much of the federal money earmarked for those struggling schools to be distributed to parents in the form of payments -- critics call them vouchers -- that may be used to transfer students to private schools or more successful public schools.

Democrats oppose the use of vouchers. A tentative compromise was reached under which students at substandard schools could get funds for after-school tutoring or for transfer to another public school. However, the deal would not, as proposed by Bush, allow public funds to be used for private school tuition. The bill is now the subject of negotiations over how much funding schools should receive.

MISSILE DEFENSE: Bush has made building a national missile defense system a top priority despite objections from European allies and other countries. In a May 1 speech, he reiterated his contention that a national missile defense program is technologically possible and said the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, which precludes a missile defense system, should be scrapped.

His speech was short on details, but he said the ABM treaty is a holdover from a different era and today's threats come from "a small number of missiles" in the hands of rogue states "for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life." The president also is planning to take two trips to Europe over the next several months to consult with key allies over the issue.

Back to top