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The State of our Union

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
So another year has passed and it's time for the State of the Union. Unlike last year, this year the President faced a significantly less friendly Congress so - as a result - this speech was seemingly more moderate than in years past.

So, in my typical fashion, I'm going to critique and comment some of the high and low points with of this year's address.
We are not the first to come here with 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. Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on -- as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done.
I loved this tone at the start of his speech (after, of course, he praised Nancy Pelosi as being the first female speaker of the house.) While last year he basically told the opposition to "be civil and quiet in your dissent", this year he realized that he doesn't have that luxury. So it's "let's cross the aisle and work together" now.
First, we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C.
Remember this one, kids, we'll talk more about this later...
[T]here is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour -- when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate -- they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice.
Well, that certainly sounds reasonable, but I'm a big believer in accountability and transparency of government.
Tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents.
Well, medical insurance is good. Making it more affordable is good. But this seems like a back-door federal subsidy for the health-care industry. Is that really the solution?
Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America -- with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol -- and funding new infrastructure and technology.
Remember the whole "control spending" thing? What... control everyone else's spending? And what happened to the border fence?
We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol -- using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.
I read somewhere that the administration has spent all of 12 million (with an "m") on this last year, which seems pretty low considering the importance it got in last year's speech. But I can't find the link, so don't quote me on that.
For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger.
Actually, I beg to differ. I feel that the responsibility is to ensure freedom and rights of the citizens of this country, not "protect us". It seems the President thinks of the government as a parent.

At this point I'm going to skip the President's fearmongering section of his speech, where he tells us what imminent danger we're in because the 'ter-rists' want to kill us all. I'm glad he has decided to bump up security rather than address the root causes of this. So now we move on to Iraq.
We are carrying out a new strategy in Iraq -- a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission.
...Because that plan's worked so well thus far.

Anyway, the rest of the speech is just either saying "Well, we're going to do more of the same" or singling out heroic Americans or symbolic individuals. It's an interesting speech, but not earth-shattering and the tone that it really sets is "I'm just going to try to pass the next two years as quietly as possible." Isn't that wonderful?

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