President George W. Bush is speaking on Wall Street today to further promote the economic initiatives he laid out during his State of the Union speech last week. Yesterday, the president visited the Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria, Ill., where he emphasized the importance of free trade rather than the protectionist rhetoric coming from some Democrats. CNBC’s John Harwood was on “Morning Call,” telling viewers what to expect when Bush talks today.
The message will be similar, Harwood says, but a bit more refined. President Bush will call for keeping taxes low while touting some of his policies that have been working to invigorate the economy and how to keep it strong. He will also continue to push for Congress to increase his trade negotiating power.
But that task will be difficult. As Harwood notes, “Clearly the wind is at the Democrats’ back politically, and they think in the Congress they’ve got a mandate to do some things.” A recent opinion poll showed that only 40% of Americans were happy about the economy, while 57% thought that Congress, and not the White House, should be setting national policy. Expect the Dems to leverage that public support to block any Bush proposals regarding free trade – especially considering the Democrats’ recent campaign was run largely on issues relating to lower and middle income Americans who’ve lost jobs to overseas competition.
Check back shortly for more coverage of President Bush’s speech in New York here on the Play-By-Play blog.