Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union -- Quick Thoughts

Some quick thoughts on President Bush’s the State of the Union address:

Healthcare: I was glad to see him place this issue right up front. In general, I agreed with all his proposals. The tax break for those paying for their own insurance is an idea way past due. Although the poorest Americans who pay little in taxes will not gain much from the plan, many other Americans will. It’s a commonsense solution that won’t solve the big problems in healthcare but will at least ease the pain.

Government Spending: Bush’s desire to curb the use of earmarks and make them less secretive is an easy bit of bipartisanship. His suggestions are pretty much what Speaker Pelosi has proposed. That’s fine. There’s no need for the ridiculous number of earmarks Congress now uses. Nor is it a good idea that many of those earmarks are never voted on or even included in the bill put before the President.

Bush’s call to reduce the deficit and balance the budget is an always popular statement. I’ll believe it when I see it. I doubt anyone in Congress or the White House actually has the guts to eliminate many of the bloated spending initiatives. But I’m a firm believer that raising taxes should always be a last resort and not an easy out.

Immigration: Bush said we need to have a guest worker program so that our border patrol can focus on catching the drug smugglers and terrorists and not have to deal with those who are only coming here to find work. That’s a good way to position this issue. I’m generally in favor of a guest worker program provided that it requires businesses to pay fair wages so that American citizens can actually compete for jobs with the guest workers.

Environment: I wonder if that was the first national forum in which Bush acknowledged not only the reality of climate change but our ability to do something about it. I have little faith in this administration when it comes to developing a comprehensive energy policy that doesn’t heavily favor oil exploration, but maybe I’ll be surprised. I think alternative fuel research and higher fuel economy standards are smart initiatives but this is not an area where ten minutes of a speech will make any difference. If the White House truly wants to make a difference, the administration will have to focus a lot of time and energy on the matter.

Service: The Civilian Reserve Corps is really the first service-oriented initiative Bush has pushed for. His failure to ask us to serve our country after 9/11 is one of my biggest criticisms of his presidency. I’m not at all sure what this Civilian Corps will do, but at least it’s a non-military way for Americans to serve our nation.

Iraq: He just rehashed what he said the other night. Nothing new and that’s no surprise.

Overall: I always find Bush’s Big Speeches to be full of ideas I like.It’s always the follow-through that seems lacking. Most Presidents propose a lot more than they ever accomplish. But Bush seems to have done less than most. Part of that is because we’ve had a disastrously poor Congress but part of it is that Bush has been unable to effectively lead for much of his presidency. Maybe a Democratic Congress will force him to make the kinds of compromises he’s rejected in the past. We’ll see. Speeches are nice. But action is what matters.



Anonymous Hamilton said...

I supported Bush in 2000 and in 2004, but I honestly admit that I cannot stand to watch him give speeches. I cringe and hold my breath. To say nothing of the ideas presented, the Great Communicator Jr. he is not.

9:54 PM  

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