Iowa Public Television


President Bush Delivers Final State of the Union

posted on February 1, 2008

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. The Federal government continued its work righting an off-kilter and battered economy.

Newly released numbers for construction of new homes showed a drop of 18 percent in 2007 -- the lowest level in 25 years.

The drop in construction was reflected in employment figures. In January, 17,000 jobs were cut. No sector was spared -- manufacturing, construction, professional services and even the government let people go.

The Fed moved in and cut the interest rate for a 5th time since September of last year by one half of one percent. It then threw its monetary might behind another revitalization tactic announcing it will infuse $60 billion into the economy.

The one bright note was in durable goods. Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket durable goods jumped 5.2 percent in December, the biggest increase in five months.

All this comes as President Bush made his last State of the Union address this week where the economy was front and center.

President Bush Delivers Final State of the Union President George W. Bush: "As we meet tonight, our economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty. America has added jobs for a record 52 straight months, but jobs are now growing at a slower pace. Wages are up, but so are prices for food and gas. Exports are rising, but the housing market has declined. At kitchen tables across our country, there is a concern about our economic future."

Aiming much of his speech at the country's economic concerns, President Bush delivered his seventh and final State of the Union this week. Bush addressed the current economic stimulus package working its way through Congress and urged lawmakers to lower taxes and curb domestic spending.

President George W. Bush: "I'll send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs, totaling more than $18 billion. The budget that I will submit will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012. American families have to balance their budgets; so should their government."

The President's annual State of the Union rarely addressed rural America and did not include any mention of the long-developing 2007 farm bill. But Bush did roll-out a new international initiative hoping to eliminate global famine.

President George W. Bush: "Today, more than half the world's food aid comes from the United States. And tonight, I ask Congress to support an innovative proposal to provide food assistance by purchasing crops directly from farmers in the developing world, so we can build up local agriculture and help break the cycle of famine."

The Bush Administration's effort to spend food aid money for crops in developing countries is unlikely to gather Congressional support. Many farm-state lawmakers oppose the policy amid concerns that it could siphon funds from American farmers. Various anti-poverty groups are also skeptical the program could gather traction during President Bush's final year in office.

Without the usual fanfare of recent presidential cabinet nominations, the Bush Administration finalized the confirmation of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schaffer this week. Schaffer is the nation's 29th USDA Secretary and third under President Bush. The two-term North Dakota Governor claims he will take a "hands-on" approach to the 2007 farm bill and has openly questioned the Bush Administration's position on lower payment limits for American farmers.

Tags: Congress George W. Bush government news politics presidents