A State Of The Union Speech Rundown

Summary: The delivery was very good, most of the agenda was music to my ears, and the hug between the Iraqi voter and the slain marine’s mom was really moving. It was also fab to see that Iraqi woman waving her purple finger in the air and starting to get emotional.

Bush’s Domestic Agenda

Like a lot of conservatives, I was very supportive of Bush’s foreign policy in his first term, but less than thrilled with his domestic agenda. This time around, I’m a lot happier with what Bush is shooting for on the home front….

“I will send you a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities.”

This is EXACTLY what I want a Republican President to be doing. I’m thrilled….

“We will help an additional 200,000 workers to get training for a better career, by reforming our job training system and strengthening America’s community colleges. And we will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education, by increasing the size of Pell Grants.”

I’m not a big fan of government job training or Pell Grants as opposed to private scholarships. This would have been a good time to talk-up vouchers.

“Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits. Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back, by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims — and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.”

Tort reform is near and dear to my heart, so again, way to go, W!

“To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make health care more affordable, and give families greater access to good coverage, and more control over their health decisions. I ask Congress to move forward on a comprehensive health care agenda — with tax credits to help low-income workers buy insurance, a community health center in every poor county, improved information technology to prevent medical errors and needless costs, association health plans for small businesses and their employees, expanded health savings accounts, and medical liability reform that will reduce health care costs, and make sure patients have the doctors and care they need.”

This is an important issue that matters to Americans and I’m glad to see it addressed. This is one area Republicans need to put much more emphasis on and I’m glad to see W. talking it up.

“Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid, and more production here at home, including safe, clean nuclear energy. My Clear Skies legislation will cut power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens. And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology — from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol. Four years of debate is enough — I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.”

This is another vitally important issue, but Democrats are captives of environmental wackos who insist we sink inordinate amounts of lucre into mediocre forms of energy production like solar panels and windmills while insisting that we ignore oil, nuclear power, & coal. But Bush’s plan is another proposal that’s good for America so thumbs up to this, too.

“Year after year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax code. I have appointed a bipartisan panel to examine the tax code from top to bottom. And when their recommendations are delivered, you and I will work together to give this Nation a tax code that is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all.”

Rewriting the tax code? Flattening it out perhaps? Love it!

“It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, that rejects amnesty, that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.”

This is the proverbial “fly in the soup” of the speech. Bush is on the wrong side of not just the majority of his own party, but the majority of all Americans with his ridiculous immigration proposal.

“Thirteen years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. And every year afterward will bring a new shortfall, bigger than the year before. For example, in the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra 200 billion dollars to keep the system afloat — and by 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than 300 billion dollars. By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt. If steps are not taken to avert that outcome, the only solutions would be dramatically higher taxes, massive new borrowing, or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs.

I recognize that 2018 and 2042 may seem like a long way off. But those dates are not so distant, as any parent will tell you. If you have a five-year-old, you’re already concerned about how you’ll pay for college tuition 13 years down the road. If you’ve got children in their 20s, as some of us do, the idea of Social Security collapsing before they retire does not seem like a small matter. And it should not be a small matter to the United States Congress.”

Bush spent a lot of time on Social Security, breaking it down, using the bully pulpit to explain to the American people that this is a real problem, despite the fact that most Democrats are for purely partisan reasons knowingly, deliberately lying to the American people about the problems that are coming with the program.

Taking on this issue is a bold move for Bush, but it’s exactly what any politician who cares about what happens to this country should be doing. There can certainly be disagreements about how to handle the coming Social Security crisis, but anyone who tells you “everything’s fine” is either a liar or too dumb to be in Congress.

“Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.”

Exactly. Some conservatives have gotten huffy because Bush hasn’t spent that much time on this issue since the election, but the reality is it’s going to require 12-15 Democrats in the Senate to go along with the GOP to get this passed and the votes aren’t there. These Dems can be made to pay a political price for their stand on this Amendment, but if they refuse to protect marriage from activist judges, there’s not much Bush can do about it other than hammer them politically and appoint judges to the SCOTUS who aren’t going to mangle the Constitution in order to force gay marriage on the country.

“Medical research can help us reach that goal, by developing treatments and cures that save lives and help people overcome disabilities — and I thank Congress for doubling the funding of the National Institutes of Health. To build a culture of life, we must also ensure that scientific advances always serve human dignity, not take advantage of some lives for the benefit of others. We should all be able to agree on some clear standards. I will work with Congress to ensure that human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown for body parts, and that human life is never bought or sold as a commodity.”

I agree with Bush’s stand on cloning and stem cells although this isn’t exactly a hot issue.

“The Constitution also gives the Senate a responsibility: Every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote.”

Get the judges ready for their votes, get ready to pull the trigger on the “nuclear option,” and let’s see what the Democrats do. One way or the other, the days of filibustering GOP judges should be over soon and that suits me just fine.

“Tonight I propose a three-year initiative to help organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young men an ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence.

….Because HIV/AIDS brings suffering and fear into so many lives, I ask you to reauthorize the Ryan White Act to encourage prevention, and provide care and treatment to the victims of that disease. And as we update this important law, we must focus our efforts on fellow citizens with the highest rates of new cases, African-American men and women.

Because one of the main sources of our national unity is our belief in equal justice, we need to make sure Americans of all races and backgrounds have confidence in the system that provides justice. In America we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit — so we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction.”

I’m including all these together because they’re all designed to reach out to black Americans and show them the GOP cares. This is a page out of the Democrat’s playbook and I’m not sure how much impact these programs will have politically or in the real world.

Bush’s Foreign Policy

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because it was for the most part about Iraq and that has been discussed extensively on RWN and around the blogosphere. However, I did want to note a few things…

“We are working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

This is all the attention that North Korea got in the speech. Why didn’t W. spend more time on this?

“Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act — and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom. Today, Iran remains the world’s primary state sponsor of terror — pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re-processing, and end its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.

…And the victory of freedom in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the war on terror, inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, bring more hope and progress to a troubled region, and thereby lift a terrible threat from the lives of our children and grandchildren.”

Could we be giving guns and money to those Democratic reformers? I certainly hope so…

“We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out. We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned.”

Why is it that so many Democrats don’t seem to get this…or is it that they get it and just want to score political points by calling for an exit date?

Overall: I’ll give Bush a B+ for his domestic agenda although I’m not sure how much of it he’ll be able to get implemented. Sure, there are some other things I’d like to see included (like vouchers, term limits, a Balanced Budget Amendment), but let’s not get greedy. If Bush can accomplish half the things he’s going to try to do (with the exception being his godawful immigration plan), it would be a big step forward for the country.

On the foreign policy front, Bush stuck to Iraq for the most part, which is a bit disappointing because it would be great to get a better feeling for how he intends to deal with some of the other major issues in the war on terror. However, Iraq is the 800 pound gorilla on the foreign policy front, so it’s not surprising that he spent most of his time there. C on content, B+ overall on that part of the speech because of the emotional moments with the marine’s parents and the Iraqi voter that most people who saw the speech will remember tomorrow.

All in all, Bush did a solid job and I feel very comfortable with the speech he gave and the agenda he laid down…

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