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'The United States Will Not Retreat From the World,' Bush Says

I'm Steve Ember with IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

President Bush gave his State of the Union speech to both houses of Congress and the American people Tuesday.

This year, one of the major subjects was the nation's dependence on oil. Mister Bush said, in his words, “America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.” He promised to help reduce the need for foreign oil. He called for twenty-two percent more federal money for research into other kinds of fuel.

The president said his goal is to reduce oil imports from the Middle East by seventy-five percent by two thousand twenty-five. Energy officials say oil from the Persian Gulf is now eleven percent of all the oil used in the United States. The largest suppliers are Mexico and Canada.

Mister Bush also spoke about helping the Gulf Coast recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. And he again called on Congress to make his tax cuts permanent.

He also called for additional programs to improve public education. One proposal is to train seventy thousand high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science. Students can get college credit for such classes.

On another subject, Mister Bush called for a commission to study the increasing costs of social and health programs for poor and older Americans. These are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

And the president spoke again of his goal to spread freedom and democracy around the world. He called on the government of Egypt to "open paths of peaceful opposition." He urged Saudi Arabia to press forward with what he described as the first steps of reform.

And he discussed the first Palestinian legislative elections in ten years. On January twenty-fifth, the Islamic movement Hamas defeated the longtime ruling party, Fatah. Mister Bush said "now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism and work for lasting peace."

Also in his speech, the president dismissed calls to withdraw troops from Iraq. And he said the nations of the world must not permit Iran to gain nuclear weapons.

Mister Bush also spoke about support at home for the fight against terror. He told Americans they cannot find security by "retreating within our borders." He said, "The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil."

The new governor of Virginia gave the Democratic Party response to this year's speech. Tim Kaine accused the Bush administration of what he called "poor choices and bad management."

Governor Kaine said all Americans support the goal of winning the war on terrorism. And that, he said, leads Democrats to ask this question: "Are the president's policies the best way to win this war."

IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Nancy Steinbach. Our reports are online at I'm Steve Ember.