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Wicker Shares Bush Goals For Second Term

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President Bush has charted an ambitious agenda for the next four years including major reforms to the Social Security System and the tax code, initiatives to strengthen the economy, and continued emphasis on winning the war on terrorism.

In a press conference two days after the election, the President spoke of "serious responsibilities and historic opportunities" facing his Administration and the Congress next year. He called for Republicans and Democrats to work together to address the nation's problems, saying, "With the campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results." I agree.

There are common goals on which both parties can agree. We must win the conflict in Iraq, be vigilant in protecting our homeland, and aggressive in fighting terrorism worldwide. On other domestic and foreign policy issues, it is inevitable that there will be disagreements about the best approach to pursue. I share the President's hope that we can put aside ideological differences on Capitol Hill and work together on legislation to protect our country and improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Mr. Bush believes he earned political capital in winning a second term, and he spoke forcefully about plans to spend that capital. He pledged to provide strong leadership in support of the issues on which he campaigned, and the wide-ranging program he outlined on November 4 reflects those priorities.

The agenda includes:

• Social Security reform. Beginning a national dialogue on the most effective way to ensure the long-term solvency of the system, including allowing younger workers to invest a portion of their premiums in private accounts. Any new approach must also protect benefits for current beneficiaries and those who will retire in the next few years.

• Tax code changes. A comprehensive look at the entire tax structure with emphasis on simplification to encourage investment, savings, greater confidence in the fairness of the system, and global competitiveness.

• Winning in Iraq. Ensuring that the U.S. military, its coalition partners, and the Iraqi government have the resources and support to bring stability and representative government to Iraq.

• War on terror. Remaining resolute in fighting terrorism at home and abroad with a strong military, enhanced intelligence capabilities, and well-prepared homeland security plan.

• Strengthening the economy. Making expiring tax relief provisions permanent and building on the pro-growth policies that have helped the economy rebound from the 2000 recession and the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01.

• Education. Continuing reform efforts begun with passage of the No Child Left Behind Act with initiatives to bring more accountability and higher standards in elementary, secondary, and high schools.

• Health Care. Pursuing legislation to make health care more affordable, including medical liability reform to prevent frivolous lawsuits, which have increased costs and limited accessibility of physicians and health care options.

I expect Congress and the President will also act quickly on a comprehensive energy plan to make our country less dependent on foreign sources, and I hope we will strengthen the President's faith-base initiatives to ensure that grassroots organizations can continue their partnership with the federal government to help our neighbors in need.

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