Wed Jan 24, 2007 15:50

1/23/07 Radio Your Way

STATE OF THE UNION: (Pogo ran out of juice)



State of the Union: Readers' views

'State of Union in state of denial'
Oakland Tribune, CA - 41 minutes ago
The Bay Area's House delegation — for the first time in years, an unbroken string of Democrats — reacted to President Bush's State of the Union address ...

January 24, 2007

Speaking before a Democratic Congress for the first time, President George W. Bush used last night's State of the Union address to urge lawmakers to give his new Iraq policy a chance and to push his domestic agenda, focusing on issues like health care and energy.

In the 50 minute speech, the president urged Congress to support his plan to increase troop levels in Iraq, calling it America's best hope for winning the battle against extremism.

"We went into this largely united - in our assumptions, and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure," he said. "Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq - and I ask you to give it a chance to work."

Bush opened by saying that although Congress has changed, the goals of the nation have not, and that the government is responsible for “extending this nation’s prosperity, to spend the people’s money wisely, to solve problems, not leave them to future generations, to guard America against all evil, and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.”

The president praised the current state of the economy and that of the job market, but he also focused on a series of economic reforms, including a balanced Federal budget.

“We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth – in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs so far,” said Bush. “Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. “This economy is on the move – and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise,” said Bush.

The president stressed the importance of a transparent budget by cutting the number of earmarks, special interest items that are often slipped into bills.

Bush’s suggestion for passing medical liability reform was welcomed with a large round of applause.

The president called for a temporary worker program which he says will free up border agents to pursue drug smugglers, criminals and terrorists.

In an effort to decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, Bush asked Congress to reduce gasoline usage in the U.S. by 20 percent in the next ten years.

“To reach this goal, 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 – this is nearly five times the current target,” said the president.

Not surprisingly, the president spoke of terrorism.

“The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world,” said Bush. “And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war.”

He stressed the importance of protecting the American people and said it is necessary for the “sake of our own security” that America must continue to build a “free society” for Iraq.

“Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle,” said the president. “So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.”

Bush reiterated what he said on January 11, defending his plan to increase the troop flow to Iraq.

“In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success,” he said. “Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq – because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.”

Besides the increase in troops in Iraq, Bush rallied for an augmentation in the size of the active Army and Marine Corps and the establishment of a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps which would function like the military reserve.

While talking about U.S. foreign policy, Bush talked about fighting both HIV/AIDS and malaria in Africa.

Bush ended the speech by pointing out Americans who had performed heroic acts, from basketball star Dikembe Mutombo opening a hospital in his native Congo, to Harlem's Wesley Autrey, who saved a teen who fell onto the subway tracks.

The president headed into his sixth annual speech with historically-low approval ratings, and with stiff resistance to his Iraq policy.

Senator Charles Schumer responded to the president’s speech and his comments about the cooperation between the two parties.

"It is good to hear the president talking the bipartisan talk, but the substance of his speech shows he has yet to walk the bipartisan walk,” said Schumer in a written statement. “Just about every one of the president's proposals fall within the narrow ideological contours that the voters rejected in 2006. We hope as the year progresses his actions will more closely mirror his bipartisan words."

In the official Democratic response, a firm Senator Jim Webb discussed both national and international affairs.

Webb criticized the president’s Iraq strategy, and challenged him to improve the nation’s reputation abroad.

“The war's costs to our nation have been staggering: financially, the damage to our reputation around the world, the lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism, and especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve,” said Webb. We need a new direction."

"We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted - disarray that has followed," added Webb.

The Democrat also said that hopefully the president’s calls for alternative energy will now be fruitful because the Democratic majority supports legislation to protect the environment.

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