Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The State of the Union

Mostly, it sucks.

Okay, now let’s get to the specifics. Bush had a good start with his salute to Nancy Pelosi – boy, that must have been tough to get out of his mouth (I know, he has trouble getting most words out of his mouth, but still...). I watched this just to see her sitting there and it was a fascinating experience, as her reaction to each of his proposals was a great indicator of how much real cooperation there was going to be -- not much.
His first proposal was about balancing the Federal budget. I guess he just noticed this, understandable since he was busy fighting a senseless war and keeping Terry Schiavo alive, both of which were very difficult, if not impossible. He also wants to do it without raising taxes, which got a huge cheer from the Republicans, who never bothered about balancing anything when they were in power. It will, of course, be impossible to do, but here’s my contribution – end the war in Iraq, end farm subsides, end oil and gas subsidies, end subsidies to health insurers, negotiate drug prices for Medicare as we do with the VA, and let’s see where we are after that.
He’s also found earmarks in spending bills to be a horrible thing. He somehow didn’t mind when the GOP spent a couple of hundred million to build a bridge to nowhere in Alaska, and never vetoed a spending bill in his first six years in office, in spite of the earmarks and deficits, but I guess, like when he ended his drinking days, he’s had some sort of epiphany – it occurred back in November, I suspect.
Once again he talked about fixing Social Security – which to W means something akin to “fixing” Barney.
His health insurance proposal was typical Republican nonsense. Tax deductions are fine for those making $60K – but those people probably have health insurance now. The people without it are mostly in two classes – those families in lower income groups ($40K and below) who can’t afford it, and who most likely pay little or no income tax now, and those who are turned down by insurers because they had a lingering cold in 2003. This proposal would do nothing for them at all. And if you think the insurers aren’t going to take this infusion of government money into the system as an opportunity to raise their rates, you haven’t been paying attention for the last couple of decades. This expenditure would be a significant drain on the treasury, making his “goal” of balancing the budget even more unattainable than it already is.
Immigration reform is an area Bush and the Dems may be able to agree – I guess that could be good.
I’m for energy independence – but until I hear the words “higher CAFE standards” coming out of Bush’s mouth, it’s all another giveaway to energy producers. By the way, I thought Charles Grassley (R-IA) was about to have an orgasm right there in the chamber – wow, say we’re going to increase the use of ethanol to Charlie and it’s party time in Iowa City.
Then he went into his Iraq portion of the speech. My favorite line “whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure” -- true, but that is what we got...funny how that works sometimes.

Then Senator Jim Webb of Virginia gave the Democratic response. That was simply the best speech I’ve heard by a Democrat in years. Strong, with a firm understanding about what truly matters to the party and what should matter to the country. Why can’t this guy run for President? He’s far more experienced than Obama, with a biography that clearly would reach out across America. Let’s see: a soldier, a lawyer, a novelist, a journalist, five years as a committee counsel in Congress, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy – a job he resigned from because he didn’t agree with mandated cuts in the force structure. Yes, he resigned on a point of principle – I guess that disqualifies him from running for President. Never mind.


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