State of the Union

I watched and read President Bush's State of the Union Address last night. I also caught a little bit of, and read fully, Sen. Webb's Democratic Response.

Here are my thoughts on a few snippets of Pres. Bush's address:

Pres. Bush said
My response

We're not the first to come here with a government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people.

I completely agree. I think that a statement like that, while not a problem solver, can go a long way to finding common ground.

So let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress, and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session.

Not only earmarks, but wasteful spending, tax incentives for the wealthy and inflated congressional office budgets!

The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America's children -- and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law.

I beg to differ with the President on this one. I don't think "No Child Left Behind" works at all. I think we can do better than it. Let's pass a law that really does what it says.

I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income on payroll tax -- or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income.

I don't understand how this works, but I'm glad to see a proactive proposal to make healthcare more available and affordable.

We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in, and that will leave Border Agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists.
Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate, so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law.

I think this congress is going to be able to put together legislation that recognizes people -- not illegal immigrants. I like that he didn't call people who have come in without documentation "criminals." That statement could get him in trouble with more conservative people!

We must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 -- and that is nearly five times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks -- and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.

We've heard this stuff in all the State of the Union Addresses. Maybe this time we'll make even better progress.

we're deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we're sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out.

I disagree with the President here. I think we need to stop demonizing our adversaries in Iraq and Afghanistan and find a was to end the conflict -- period. If we really wanted to do it with military might, 20,000 soldiers is about 1/100th of what we would need. I don't support sending in any more troops.

I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty.

Here's another statement that can go a long way to helping those who don't have enough. We need to continue to do a better job at being unselfish and respecting everyone in the world.

This is a decent and honorable country -- and resilient, too. We've been through a lot together. We've met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead.

President Bush's words were, I think (with the notable exception of his "War escalation" talk), uplifting, forward-thinking, and Presidential.

Let's move forward.

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