Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SotU Reaction

I had considered live-blogging the State of the Union speech last night, but came to two conclusions. First, not enough people read this site to make that worthwhile, and second, I wanted to pay better attention than typing quick reactions would allow me. Instead, I'll try to give my impressions now that I've been able to sleep on it.

1) Energy
I think Bush's proposed policies are good first steps that are 7 SotU's over-due. I think that energy policy needs to be the cornerstone of the next President's platform. It has dramatic economic, foreign policy, national security, and environmental implications.

Two policies that I would have liked to have heard him support, but of course knew he wouldn't are a Pigovian Tax, and a federally sponsored X-Prize for clean energy technologies.

2) Education
Honestly, I have a hard time getting excited about No Child Left Behind. Reauthorize it, don't reauthorize it... doesn't really matter to me. It was nice to hear him mention vouchers, but that won't go anywhere.

Why doesn't anyone ever call them "scholarships"? Could the Democrats really oppose scholarships to needy children to attend better schools? The term "vouchers" is too distant from what they really are.

3) Healthcare
Greg Mankiw and Arnold Kling have both commented on Bush's plan since he announced it over the weekend. They are far more knowledgeable than I, but from what I can gather it sounds like a fairly decent plan. You should note, I say that as an employee of one of the largest corporations in the world, with a fairly gold-plated health care plan (which means that my tax bill would likely increase... I've now expressed support for two tax increases in one post, I must be running a fever).

I think Bush will need to line up as many economists and healthcare experts as he can and shove the Democrats' "knee-jerk" complaints back in their faces. This is not some huge new tax burden on the middle class. If anything, this seems fairly progressive (hat-tip Prof Mankiw).

If the Democrats can't get on-board with this, then they truly have no interest in trying to reform anything. This is their chance to embrace the bi-partisanship they keep crowing about and make a positive change for the future prosperity of the country. This plan has it all: Market forces and personal savings accounts for conservatives and progressive taxes for liberals.

4)The War on Terror & Iraq
Despite the fact that this was obviously the most important issue discussed last night, I don't have much to contribute here other than to echo some of what has already been written elsewhere.

I liked the line about no one voting for failure and the request that Congress give his new strategy a chance to succeed.

I think he did a masterful job (ok, so maybe expectations were low) of laying out the Iraq war in the context of the global struggle against Islamofascism. I especially liked the paralellism of the 2005 successes and the 2006 terrorist responses. Let's hope we can respond even more forcefully in 2007.

I agreed with his assesment that pulling out of Iraq is likely to leave behind a bloody and chaotic battle between Sunnis and Shiites that will drag in their supporters from all over the Arab world. I would have liked, however, and explanation of WHY that would be a disaster for America. As I've noted in the past, I'm skeptical that such a war would be all bad for the United States. Obviously the consequences of oil disruption are very negative (see SotU point #1 above), but if the various Sunni and Shiite factions are consumed in a tribal war, they are less likely to be focused on ways to kill Americans or wipe Israel off the map.

However, per the President's request, I am willing to give General Petraeus the opportunity to try to stem the violence and give the nascent Iraqi government a more fertile environment in which to grow.

I also find the notion of the non-binding resolution to whine about the President's plan in Iraq or the NBRWPPI (pronounced "nibrippi") childish. Anyone who votes for that resolution sure as hell better have their own proposal ready to go.

5)The Gallery Heroes
Cheers to all of them, especially Wesley Autrey.

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