Bush Tackles Dems' Issues- His Own Way

As we reported earlier, President George W. Bush is in New York today, speaking to Wall Street about a number of the domestic initiatives he emphasized during his State of the Union speech. The president’s remarks showed an awareness of the political reality of a Democratic Congress, but he pushed his own agenda nonetheless. Liz Claman hosted a roundtable reaction on “Morning Call.”

CNBC’s John Harwood paid particular attention to Bush’s attempts to incorporate key Democratic issues into his speeches, specifically income inequality and executive compensation. Of course, the president has his own take on those issues. He says that education is the best way to address income disparities, and his No Child Left Behind legislation is the best way to improve education in the U.S. And instead of governmental regulation on CEO pay, Bush called for more transparency and greater corporate responsibility.

CNBC economy reporter Steve Liesman was also a part of the discussion on “Morning Call.” He noted Bush’s call for making his tax cuts permanent, even though the president must know that Democrats will never let that happen. But Bush pushed hard for fast-track authority (allowing the president to negotiate and sign trade bills before Congress votes on them) when it comes to free trade. Liesman doesn’t think Congress will approve that either, but he says it looks like an issue on which the president is willing to negotiate.

Harwood doesn’t see the president getting any additional free-trade powers either, especially since Democrats are expecting to win the 2008 presidential election. Why give that power to President Bush when they could hold it for one of their own, he says?

But Bush does have the economy in his favor. Stronger than expected gross domestic product numbers were reported today, and they couldn’t have come at a better time, says Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact & Opinion Economics. “The economy has put in some good numbers, and the president picked a good day to be talking about it,” he said.

Brusca thought Bush’s talk about adjustment assistance was also noteworthy. Bush was elected by a number of industrial states who’ve seen an economic decline, he says, and it’ll be interesting to see how the president is able to find money to support them.