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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 5—President Bush’s sixth week in office ended with a bang, as Vice President Dick Cheney was taken to a D.C. hospital with chest pain. The 60-year-old suffered a heart attack in late November, but was soon cleared to being working again.
Before his veep took sick, Bush devoted most of the week to pushing his tax-cut proposal to audiences across America in a campaign-style tour.
Taxes: Bush is calling for a $1.6 trillion cut that he says will yield families, on average, an extra $1600 a year; critics say the typical family will likely average $200, at most. Even with the reduction in revenue and a 4 percent increase in spending, Bush says the nation can pay off $2 trillion of its debt over 10 years, leaving $1.2 trillion in red ink. Getting rid of the debt altogether is impossible, according to the Bush administration.
Environment: Bush wants to encourage local input on decisions affecting federal lands and boost national park spending by $4.9 billion over five years.
Health care: The new administration plans to open government health plans to competition by letting more private insurance companies vie for the business.
Social Security: Bush plans to create a commission to figure out how people can invest in personal accounts on Wall Street.
Foreign policy: Secretary of State Colin Powell came away from Mideast talks with scant indication of change in the volatile conflict between Israel and Palestinians. He indicated the Bush administration favors ending many economic sanctions against Iraq but imposing tougher restrictions on Saddam’s military apparatus and Iraq’s ability to make weapons of mass destruction.
Energy: Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would permit drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. GOP lawmakers intend to offer billions of dollars in tax incentives they say will provide a shot in the arm for domestic oil and gas development. The legislation supports measures to further deregulate electricity. Before he checked into the hospital, Vice President Cheney had been picked to flesh out the details.