Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State Of The Union Address

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States:

In the work ahead, we must be guided by the philosophy that made our nation great. As Americans, we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history.

Eminent domain abuse notwithstanding.

To build a prosperous future, we must trust people with their own money and empower them to grow our economy. As we meet tonight, our economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty. America has added jobs for a record 52 straight months, but jobs are now growing at a slower pace. Wages are up, but so are prices for food and gas. Exports are rising, but the housing market has declined. And at kitchen tables across our country, there is concern about our economic future.

Better off than the Carter years, but could use some improvement.

In the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth. But in the short run, we can all see that growth is slowing. So last week, my Administration reached agreement with Speaker Pelosi and Republican Leader Boehner on a robust growth package that includes tax relief for individuals and families and incentives for business investment.

A nice token, but probably going nowhere near the root problems. Is the real estate crisis regional and not national? Why are banks lending to people who can't afford the loans? Is the Community Reinvestment Act making them do it?

Most Americans think their taxes are high enough.

We see the glass as too full.

With all the other pressures on their finances, American families should not have to worry about the Federal Government taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks. There is only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: make the tax relief permanent. And Members of Congress should know: If any bill raising taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it.

Read my lips, no new taxes.

Next week, I will send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs totaling more than $18 billion. And this budget will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012. American families have to balance their budgets, and so should their Government.

Better late than never, Big Spender.

Last year, I asked you to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. I also asked you to stop slipping earmarks into committee reports that never even come to a vote. Unfortunately, neither goal was met. So this time, if you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I will send it back to you with my veto. And tomorrow, I will issue an Executive Order that directs Federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by the Congress. If these items are truly worth funding, the Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote.

Read my lips, no new undebated earmarks.

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to...allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their mortgages.

I love this - this fix is a Federal law allowing states to go into deeper bond debt.

The Congress must also expand health savings accounts

I have never liked that idea. A specialized retirement fund I can understand, especially if my employer matches my contributions. But a specialized health care fund? What if I need the money for something else?

Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our Nation's capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America's inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids.

More spending.

Trade brings better jobs, better choices, and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the Federal Government has a responsibility to help. I ask the Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs.

More spending.

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology.

Wait for it...

Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.

This whole idea of state-funded technological research assumes that government knows best which research efforts are more promising than others. What happened to the power of individuals that you spoke aboput earlier?

And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride. The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more efficient technology.

There's a market for clean, efficient technology. It will arrive when the private-sector creative genius kicks in, and isn't fettered by excessive taxation and regulation.

To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Last year, the Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge. So I ask the Congress to double Federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on earth.

More spending.

I have submitted judicial nominees who will rule by the letter of the law, not the whim of the gavel. Many of these nominees are being unfairly delayed. They are worthy of confirmation, and the Senate should give each of them a prompt up-or-down vote.

No wonder John McCain didn't show up for the speech.

Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are bringing hope to pockets of despair, with newfound support from the Federal Government. And to help guarantee equal treatment for faith-based organizations when they compete for Federal funds, I ask you to permanently extend Charitable Choice.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! You just said that individual effort is dishing out more charity, but you still want to increase entitlements! What happened to your faith in the power of individuals?

Every Member in this chamber knows that spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is growing faster than we can afford. And we all know the painful choices ahead if America stays on this path: massive tax increases, sudden and drastic cuts in benefits, or crippling deficits. I have laid out proposals to reform these programs. Now I ask Members of Congress to offer your proposals and come up with a bipartisan solution to save these vital programs for our children and grandchildren.

But he refuses to say how. More taxes? Less entitlement? Invade Canada and steal their oil, beer and moose herds? Sell New England to the European Union? Raffle off tickets to throw pies at our Congressional representatives?

[W]e also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border until we create a lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy.

We do have a way! We're just lax at enforcing the rules!

In Iraq, the terrorists and extremists are fighting to deny a proud people their liberty and to establish safe havens for attacks across the world. One year ago, our enemies were succeeding in their efforts to plunge Iraq into chaos. So we reviewed our strategy and changed course. We launched a surge of American forces into Iraq. And we gave our troops a new mission: Work with Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people, pursue the enemy in its strongholds, and deny the terrorists sanctuary anywhere in the country.

The Iraqi people quickly realized that something dramatic had happened. Those who had worried that America was preparing to abandon them instead saw tens of thousands of American forces flowing into their country. They saw our forces moving into neighborhoods, clearing out the terrorists, and staying behind to ensure the enemy did not return. And they saw our troops, along with Provincial Reconstruction Teams that include Foreign Service Officers and other skilled public servants, coming in to ensure that improved security was followed by improvements in daily life. Our military and civilians in Iraq are performing with courage and distinction, and they have the gratitude of our whole Nation.

The Iraqis launched a surge of their own. In the fall of 2006, Sunni tribal leaders grew tired of al Qaida's brutality and started a popular uprising called "The Anbar Awakening." Over the past year, similar movements have spread across the country. And today, this grassroots surge includes more than 80,000 Iraqi citizens who are fighting the terrorists. The government in Baghdad has stepped forward as well — adding more than 100,000 new Iraqi soldiers and police during the past year.

While the enemy is still dangerous and more work remains, the American and Iraqi surges have achieved results few of us could have imagined just 1 year ago:

When we met last year, many said containing the violence was impossible. A year later, high profile terrorist attacks are down, civilian deaths are down, and sectarian killings are down.

When we met last year, militia extremists — some armed and trained by Iran [emphasis added, will return to this topic later] — were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq. A year later, Coalition and Iraqi forces have killed or captured hundreds of militia fighters. And Iraqis of all backgrounds increasingly realize that defeating these militia fighters is critical to the future of their country.

When we met last year, al Qaida had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and their leaders had just offered American forces safe passage out of the country. Today, it is al Qaida that is searching for safe passage. They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaida leaders and operatives. Last month, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaida and admitted that Coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaida is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated.

When we met last year, our troop levels in Iraq were on the rise. Today, because of the progress just described, we are implementing a policy of "return on success," and the surge forces we sent to Iraq are beginning to come home.

The news of the impending death of our war capability have been greatly exaggerated.

We are also standing against the forces of extremism in the Holy Land, where we have new cause for hope. Palestinians have elected a president who recognizes that confronting terror is essential to achieving a state where his people can live in dignity and at peace with Israel.

Uh, how many terrorists has the government of Mahmoud Abbas killed or apprehended? I'll be optimistic when Palestinians and the IDF are conducting joint military operations.

We are also standing against the forces of extremism embodied by the regime in Tehran. Iran's rulers oppress a good and talented people. And wherever freedom advances in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose it. Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas' efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon. Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you, we respect your traditions and your history, and we look forward to the day when you have your freedom. Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, and cease your support for terror abroad. But above all, know this: America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf.

I call this the Lukewarm War - cold war with occasional flashes of hot war instigated by Iran through its proxies (Hezbollah, Iraqi guerillas) against the United States, which chooses not to retaliate militarily against the mullahs.

One of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning. Last year, the Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, the Congress set the legislation to expire on February 1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We have had ample time for debate. The time to act is now.

The opposition painted this as "domestic surveillance." Foreign calls into the US are not domestic communications.

America is leading the fight against global poverty, with strong education initiatives and humanitarian assistance. We have also changed the way we deliver aid by launching the Millennium Challenge Account. This program strengthens democracy, transparency, and the rule of law in developing nations, and I ask you to fully fund this important initiative.

Sigh. Money doesn't strengthen democracy. Political reform strengthens democracy. Some can be accomplished through top-level diplomacy, some require guns, some can take place through private-sector social influences.

America is leading the fight against global hunger.

Refer to what I said about poverty.


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