Bush’s first hundred days are nearing an end this weekend, and as we look back to those first hundred days we can confidently sum up Bush’s administration in one word, bi-partisanship. During the first hundred days of his presidency Bush has met more times with the opposing party than any president in recent memory, even being the first president ever to attend a congressional retreat sponsored by the opposing party. As a result, Bush is moving forward on the issues that were key during the course of his campaign.Bush has refocused the debate on taxes in the United States. During his first hundred days, the debate has shifted from “Should we cut taxes?” to “How much should we cut taxes?” As a result, an historic level of tax relief will be passed in the weeks to come that will not only increase spending for priority areas, but also pay down a substantial portion of the national debt. What is most surprising is that 15 Democrats in the US Senate voted for a tax cut plan that was not fundamentally different than the Bush tax cut plan.
In addition, it appears as though the Bush administration will be getting the education reform that was a corner stone of their campaign. Daschle will allow the Bush education plan to be brought to the floor for debate. Although many noticeable differences between the Bush and Democratic plans exist, once again the debate has become one of how much increases in spending will be, not about whether or not increases should take place.
Bush will also see the defense increases that he promised during the campaign come into effect. The military will now be strengthened as service men and women will see increased pay and better living conditions, increases that will hopefully help with recruitment. In addition, the military will receive increased funding for research and development of new weapons technologies, a process begun by former President Clinton. Finally, Bush has begun to examine troop placement to determine if some American bases can begin to be shut down (e.g., the American base in the Suez Canal). As most of Washington saw that these changes were needed, Bush has been able to achieve his proposals with little opposition.
Bush has managed to change the nature of the debate in Washington. In a very real sense the partisan attacks of just one short year ago have begun to move to the background of politics. Instead, Bush has focused on pushing through real changes in the areas that he stressed the most during the course of his campaign. His success in these areas, in addition to the changing mood in Washington, shows how well Bush can lead.