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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “He shall, from time to time…”

    President Bush delivered his annual State of the Union address last night. Here’s what two Wildcat columnists thought of the speech. Don’t let them have the last word – email your thoughts to letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

    Bush the spender

    The president’s State of the Union address last night was characterized by the interplay of what he said, what he didn’t say – and what he waited to say.

    It took 40 minutes and the long-winded rationalizations of five domestic policy goals before President Bush mentioned the unutterable four-letter word on every American’s mind: Iraq. Of course, it was convenient for the Republicans that most Americans had already turned off their televisions 40 minutes into the speech.

    President Bush adopted a tone less confrontational and more plaintive than in past years. Perhaps the White House has been chastened by recent Democratic takeovers of both the House and Senate. Perhaps the president has observed his most recent poll numbers: Only 28 percent of Americans approve of Bush’s tenure as president.

    It’s a Nixonian low. And trying hard not to sound like a limping duck quacking into the wind, President Bush offered some important domestic initiatives that may have some political life to them.

    On immigration, he again voiced his support for an immigrant guest worker program; he was less than forthright on what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already here: That problem, he claimed, should be resolved “”without animosity and without amnesty”” – which means absolutely nothing.

    On the federal budget deficit, in Clintonesque fashion, he stole the Democrats’ clothes and called for a balanced budget. And yet, herein lies the rub: President Bush thinks we can do it without raising taxes.

    In the meantime, what he didn’t answer: How will we pay for all the policy initiatives advanced during the speech?

    A tax deduction to make private health care more affordable. A doubling of capacity of the strategic petroleum reserve. An additional 92,000 troops in an expanded military over the next five years. The creation of a volunteer civilian reserve corps. More funding for HIV/AIDS initiatives in Africa. More than $1 billion over five years to combat malaria in Africa. More money for the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

    No penny pinching here.

    An old adage: The job of an economist is to recognize the tradeoffs inherent in everyday life; the job of a politician is to vehemently deny tradeoffs exist. With 20,000 additional troops on their way to Iraq, our MBA president might want to dust off those old econ textbooks.

    Matt Stone is a senior majoring in international studies and economics.


    Presidential speech falls flat

    President Bush pronounced his version of the State of the Union last night and it fell flatter than a note sung by Lindsay Lohan. Ironically, her music also has more practical substance than President Bush’s address.

    I find it gut-wrenchingly hard to watch him give any speech, but like a car accident on the side of the road, I just cannot turn away from this wreck.

    By far my favorite observation of the night was the deafening silence on the left side of the chamber. Many sweeping images showed Democrats silent when Bush proposed his Republican-friendly ideas. For example, Bush spoke strongly about the Senate’s responsibility to hold an “”up or down vote”” on federal judges. Republicans screamed with joy, while Democrats rightfully sat on their hands.

    Since massive public opinion already wants a change in energy policy, the president promised unsurprising alternative-fuel initiatives. How can we trust a former oilman to run a clean, oil-independent energy policy? That’s like asking Whitney Houston to give up crack – and that rock just won’t burn.

    My favorite line from President Bush was about the elimination of the federal deficit. Another irony from Bush, considering his tax cuts for the rich were what created the deficit in the first place. It’s like if I stole a car and then returned it and expected someone to clap for me.

    But the most ridiculous part of Bush’s speech was his healthcare proposal. He wants to tax healthcare wage deductions in order to pay for coverage for the uninsured. Economics probably never made sense to the thickheaded Bush, but someone should explain his proposal makes health insurance less affordable, not more.

    Missing from Bush’s ramblings was a true recognition of the pain of losing a family member in Iraq. He likes to tout vague “”victory”” as his goal – but Bush should attempt to explain why 3,000 Americans have died for a pointless war that he refuses to end.

    President Bush delivered a stinker of a speech last night – lacking ambition, depth and practicality. It left me wishing it were already January 20, 2009: Bush’s last day in office.

    Sam Feldman is a political science senior.

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