Thursday, February 03, 2005

State of the Union Reaction

I had to write a reaction to last night's State of the Union Address for a political science class I am taking on the presidency, and I thought I would share it on the old Mint Julep.

My overall impression was that President Bush did a good job giving the speech last night. Known for not being the best public speaker, I thought that Bush seemed in control of the situation and at ease with himself.

As far as policy and some of the focuses of the speech, I was not surprised to hear him concentrate on the Social Security and foreign relations (particularly those in Iraq.) More on these two things in a bit. I was very pleased to hear him mention, early in the speech, that he would focus on alternative forms of energy, so as to lessen our dependence on foreign resources, i.e. Arab oil. In my opinion, that is one of the most important things he could focus on. Our reliance on middle-eastern oil is very scary.

As for Social Security, Bush has made this one of his special projects. He is very serious about passing reforms to improve social security. I was surprised to hear him say he would take suggestions from anyone (implying yes, the democrats also.) I was also surprised when I heard him speak of past Social Security suggestions that other politicians have made, and then heard him give a list of several democrats, including Clinton and Moynihan. It seemed as if he were trying to appeal to the Democrats to make the Social Security reform a more partisan action, instead of Bush and the Republicans bullying their approach down the Democrat's throat. That certainly says something about his dedication to the task at hand. Now we'll see if there really can be any partisan cooperation on the matter. A side note on this topic - I found it comically similar to English Parliament when the democrats booed when Bush claimed Social Security was broken. Obviously there is serious disagreement on this issue, and I just thought it was amusing that the dissenters in the crowd actually vocalized their objections. I don't think I remember that ever happening at a State of the Union Address.

It appeared to me that the Bush administration is milking the Iraq election for all that it is worth, which I suppose they are entitled to and should do. The election certainly was a success. I thought it was clever of the administration to bring in the Iraqi lady to sit next to First Lady Laura Bush. What a picture when she was recognized and waved her ink-stained finger in the air. That was a pretty good use of public image. It makes us all want to be sympathetic to Bush's cause.

These have been the main points which stand out in my mind from the speech last night. It is obvious that Bush is serious about his agenda - primarily wining the war on terrorism, and then working on Social Security and other domestic issues. While he does have a significant majority in congress, it will be very interesting to see exactly how successful Bush will be at achieving his goals.


Jim said...

The Democrats did not boo. They were saying, "No" to the claims that the president was making. It was actually refreshing to me that someone "called" him on a misleading statement. The so-called liberal media, however, said they were disrepecting the president by booing, a rather prejudicial statement.

"The system, however, on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy...For example, in the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion to keep the system afloat. And by 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than $300 billion. By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt." This implies that there will be no money for anybody after 2042. It's true that by 2018 more will be paid out of the system than will come into it, but because of the Social Security Trust Fund (from where the government will somehow come up with that extra $200 billion), there is enough to pay current levels of benefits until 2042 or 2052 depending on whose numbers you use. After that, the ratio of payers to payees will support 75-80% of current benefit levels if NOTHING is done AND if the economy grows as slowly as the most pessimistic estimates of the Social Security Administration and the Congressional Budget Office. I don't think this fits the definition of "bankruptcy."

CCJM said...

Using your numbers it most likely does not fit the definition of bankruptcy. However, I would imagine that Bush is relying on different figures to support his "bankruptcy" statement. Regardless of this minute detail, the real point is that Bush thinks SS needs a major overhaul while the Democrats don't. Both parties are going to come up with figures that support their own beliefs, and neither will accept the other's figures.

As for the booing/ point was that they raised their voice...regardless of the exact words that they were using. You are right, Jim, they did use the word "no" instead of "boo." In my haste to post I had that wrong. Anyway, their vocal opposition is what really got me.

Flash Q. Fiasco said...

No matter what figures anyone uses, it is difficult to conclude that Social Security reform is truly a priority matter considering the state of both domestic and foreign affairs.

If this were a real issue, why didn't this come up as priority in the President's campaign platform or debates? It's not. There's just not much more this lame duck is going to be able to get through congress.

CCJM said...

The reason social security never came up in the election is because it is politically very dangerous. To tackle social security is a pretty risky task, and many people would have thought him crazy if he announced his intentions about social security during the race. Now that he's reelected, Bush can focus on the issues that he cares about. If Bush cares about Social Security, then it is a priority. As for being a lame duck...don't forget that the Republicans have a large majority in congress right now. You are right, the social security will be a difficult set of legislation to get passed, but by no means should you write Bush off as ineffective on accounts of being a lame duck president.