Bush speech to rally sceptics

US president to deliver his state of the union address amid rising unpopularity.

    Bush's job approval rating is at an all
    time low [AFP]

    A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Monday gave Bush a job approval rating of 33 per cent.


    The Speech

    Al Jazeera's live coverage of the State of Union address begins at 1am GMT, ending at 6am GMT

    Only twice in six decades has a president given his state of the union address with lower poll numbers: Harry Truman during the Korean War in 1952 and Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal in 1974, the Post said.


    Iraq policy


    Reflecting Bush's failure to sell his revamped Iraq strategy to the US public, the poll showed 65 per cent of Americans oppose a troop increase, up from 61 per cent immediately after he unveiled it in a January speech.


    Bush has made clear that he will talk about his Iraq policy, which has been met with scorn on Capitol Hill, where members of congress from both sides of the aisle are preparing nonbinding resolutions against it.


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    "[The speech] will make a difference, as long as he comes out on the Iraq war situation and is honest"

    theekid02, NYC, USA

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    "There's no question there's a lot of scepticism [from] both Republicans and Democrats, and the best way to convince them that this makes sense is to implement it and show them that it works," Bush said in an interview with USA Today published on Monday.


    In his speech, he is expected to defend his approach in Iraq as a vital step in the "broader war on terrorism".


    But he will also focus on several big issues that have been eclipsed by the raging debate over Iraq, widely seen as a catalyst for his Republican Party's election losses.


    Sitting on the podium behind him will be Nancy Pelosi, the new House leader and liberal California Democrat with whom Bush traded insults during the midterm campaign.


    Domestic policy


    Bush's speech will include proposals for expanding the use of alternative fuels to reduce US reliance on foreign oil, as well as to break a legislative logjam on an immigration plan that provides a possible path to citizenship for about 12 million illegal immigrants.


    On health care, Bush will propose what could amount to a tax increase for some 30 million Americans who now have the most expensive health care plans.


    The White House admitted on Monday that his proposal to make health insurance more affordable for more Americans would mean "some people would be paying more for health insurance".


    Bush's proposal would for the first time allow people to take a tax deduction - similar to the one used by homeowners for their mortgage costs - when they have private health coverage on their own or through an employer.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera and Agencies


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