So, like a dutiful American, I watched the State of the Union last night. It definitely didn't hurt the president, but maybe only because it was so lackluster. I suppose that is what happens when the government is already running the largest deficits in out nations history and the president is still calling for tax cuts along with the loss of almost all his political capital. (Lowered Expectations Reflect Political and Fiscal Realities) I am still baffled by his tax cuts in a time of war, but that is another subject all together. Overall, it was delivered ok, but packed no punch at all. At a time when Americans are looking for inspiration, it gave none.
I knew it was coming, but I still giggled as Bush called for energy independence. The best rebuttal quote I have heard on this initiative was by Marc Sandalow of the San Francisco Chronicle who compares Bush's call for the United States to end its addiction to oil, to Barry Bonds calling for an end to steroid use. Yeah, like that will ever happen. This is the same man who invited only oil companies to consult on the nations energy policy. He can't afford real funding of R & D since the government is broke, and unless the Republican Congress is ready to change the laws to help spark private initiative, it is just words in a speech, and nothing more. I also doubt that congressional Republicans will be up to actually increasing R & D budget. That might bite into their tax cuts. (In a Lean Budget Year, A Pledge for Research)
I also laughed at his conciliatory tone to congressional Democrats. You can't call for bipartisanship and then lock the Democrats out of all of the legislative process. The only way that bipartisanship will be fostered is if the Republicans actually include Democrats. Otherwise, we are in for the same old, same old. Additionally, if Bush was serious about being bipartisan, he would be reigning in his mouth pieces, but Rove and the gang are still out there giving divisive speeches. There is only one group who can make the first step here, and that is the Republicans. The Dems are in the minority and have already been shut out and have no power to change the status quo. So, if anything is to change, it must come from the GOP and I won't be holding my breath on that one.
The Health Saving Accounts will go very quietly into the night also. His proposals still do nothing for low income people who don't have health insurance. A tax $3000 credit for a family of four making $25,000 is absurd. Someone making that much is already taking the EIC credit and is paying no where near enough in taxes for the credit to be effective. And I am sorry to all the liaise faireist, but there are two things that just don't work on a market basis. They are education and health care.
I didn't get a chance to see Kaine's rebuttle, but it sounds as if it went decent. (Va.'s Kaine Assails 'Poor Choices, Bad Management')
I think we can fully expect more of the same for 2006 as we saw in 2005.
More on the Speech:
Bush Calls for Cuts in Oil Reliance
Analysis: State of the Union Agitated
Republican political requirements suffuse president's annual adress