President offers 100-day progress report in radio address

Saturday, April 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) _ President Bush dismissed Sunday's 100-day milestone of his tenure a ``media marker,'' but he offered a progress report in which he took credit for a more civil tone in Washington and success in domestic and foreign policy.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush hit on topics that have dominated his first few months in office: bipartisanship, tax cuts and the environment.

But he didn't mention the 11-day diplomatic standoff with China over the U.S. surveillance plane and made only brief reference to his blunt statement this week that U.S. military force is ``certainly an option'' if China invades Taiwan.

``Our relationship with China is maturing,'' Bush said. ``There will be areas where we can agree, like trade; and areas where we won't agree _ Taiwan, human rights, religious liberty. And where we disagree, I will speak frankly.''

Bush will mark his 100 days in the White House with a lunch Monday for all 535 members of Congress. Some Democrats have said scheduling conflicts will prevent them from attending. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., will be in New York, and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., will be in St. Louis with three other members of the House.

The 100-day point is merely a ``media marker'' that goes back to the Franklin Roosevelt administration, Bush said. And he said ``what we are marking is not 100 days of my presidency; it is 100 days of Congress and the president working together for the American people.''

Bush said progress is being made toward changing the tone in Washington.

``There's less name-calling and finger-pointing. We're sharing credit,'' he said. ``We are learning we can make our points without making enemies. Bitterness and divisiveness in Washington poison the mood of the whole country.''

Not all Democrats agree. Some have used the 100-day mark to launch a counterattack against the Republican White House. Gephardt says there's not one issue where the White House has attempted to compromise and that Bush has a ``my way or the highway'' attitude.

The Democrats set up a Web site on the first 100 days and ran an ad this week in Washington that criticizes the administration for attempts to roll back regulations, such as rescinding new arsenic standards for drinking water.

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The Democrats continued the criticism Saturday in their radio address, with Sen. Patty Murray of Washington contending that Bush is taking the country backwards.

``Given many of the choices President Bush has made over the past hundred days, Americans are wondering who he is fighting for,'' Murray said.

``We hear about his decision to put arsenic in our water, and we wonder whether this president favors special interests over the public interest. We still don't know the final answer to that question, but we do know that some of his priorities just don't make sense to families like mine.''

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Bush said he is committed to a clean environment, but will make his decisions based on sound scientific evidence, not environmental fads.

``We are acting in a common-sense way to defend our environment,'' he said. ``We are adopting new, scientifically sensible rules to discourage emissions of lead, to protect wetlands, to reduce the amount of arsenic in drinking water, to curb dangerous pesticides and to clean the air of pollution from on-road diesel engines.''

The president also continued to champion tax cuts. He wants $1.6 trillion in reductions spread over 10 years. The House endorsed Bush's plan, but the Senate pared it down to $1.2 trillion.

``The federal government is taking more money than it needs out of the pockets of the people and we need to return some,'' Bush said. ``Yet, tax relief is also an important part of our economic strategy. It will accelerate our economic growth and create more jobs and more opportunity.''