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The Bush II agenda takes shape

He signals plans to fix Social Security system, revamp tax code, and update school reforms.

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President Bush seems determined to begin his second term with a burst of political energy.

Perhaps mindful that reelected presidents can lose power quickly, Mr. Bush has already outlined a domestic agenda that in some ways is more ambitious than the one he laid out four years ago.

From reform of the tax code and Social Security to updates for the No Child Left Behind education law, the items the president has mentioned touch on some of the most fundamental aspects of American government. If all are enacted, history might judge the Bush presidency a conservative counterpart to Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society.

But that is a very large "if." As LBJ found, foreign-policy struggles can overwhelm the best-laid domestic plans. And many of the details of Bush's agenda - such as his proposal to add personal retirement accounts to Social Security - are anathema to Democrats. In the wake of victory, Bush has vowed to unite the nation, but his domestic plans could prove divisive.

On Wednesday, only hours after his victory was finally assured, President Bush said that he had a lengthy "to-do" list for his second term. "We'll reform our outdated tax code. We'll strengthen ... Social Security for the next generation. We'll make public schools all they can be. And we will uphold our deepest values of family and faith," said Bush.

At a press conference on Thursday Bush reiterated this list, and said again that he intends to unite, not divide, the nation. "The campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I will reach out to everyone who shares our goals," Bush said.

The president sidestepped questions about Cabinet changes and the Supreme Court. But filling a possible vacancy on the high court could be one of the first items of his second term agenda. Details of this and other aspects of the Bush domestic agenda follow:


With an ailing chief justice at the US Supreme Court and a larger Republican majority in the Senate, the big question in the judiciary is whether Bush in his second term will aggressively seek to place conservatives on the federal bench - including at the nation's highest court.


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