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Bush outlines policy plans -

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Bush outlines policy plans

Reporter: Norman Hermant

NORMAN HERMANT: George W Bush doesn't do this very often. For only the fourth time in his
presidency he faced the media and America's biggest television networks in a prime time press
conference.

GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight I will address two vital priorities for the
American people.

NORMAN HERMANT: Those priorities are key to the US President's troubled agenda and to turning
around his slumping approval ratings. For the last two months Mr Bush has been crossing the US,
selling his plan to overhaul the hugely important public pension system called social security.
Nearly half of all elderly Americans rely on social security to keep them out of poverty. The
President says the system is going bankrupt and is pushing big changes, including partial
privatisation. But polls suggest up to two-thirds of the public are opposed to Mr Bush's plans. So,
to try to reverse the slide, he's now contemplating something Republicans usually don't - adjusting
payments so that the poor get more out of the system, the rich get less.

GEORGE W. BUSH: So I propose a social security system in the future where benefits for low-income
workers will grow faster than benefits for people who are better off. By providing more generous
benefits for low-income retirees, we'll make this commitment - if you work hard and pay into social
security your entire life, you will not retire into poverty.

NORMAN HERMANT: The other priority for the President is his energy policy. From petrol to power,
prices are rising and the President is under pressure to find a solution.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Now we find ourselves in the fix we're in. It's taken us a while to get there, and
it's going to take us a while to get out.

NORMAN HERMANT: That was all too apparent this week when Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince told Mr Bush
his kingdom couldn't solve America's short-term energy problems. To fix them, the US President is
thinking big. This week he said one of the answers for America is more nuclear energy, even
comparing US efforts unfavourably to, of all countries, France.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Unfortunately, America has not ordered a new nuclear power plant since the 1970s.
France, by contrast, has built 58 plants in the same period. And today, France gets more than 78
percent of its electricity from safe, clean nuclear power.

NORMAN HERMANT: Bold talk on energy and tough talk on the controversy surrounding John Bolton, Mr
Bush's nominee to be America's ambassador to the UN. He's been called a bully during bruising
senate hearings but the President says he's standing by his nominee.

GEORGE W. BUSH: John Bolton is a blunt guy, Sometimes people say I'm a little too blunt. John
Bolton can get the job done at the United Nations.

NORMAN HERMANT: If this press conference showed a president willing to soften his agenda to get it
back on track it also showed he still won't walk away from a political fight. Norman Hermant,
Lateline.