Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union

After watching the President's State of the Union address last night, I think that the speech was pretty much at least a year too late.

The most positive aspect of the speech was the President's proposal to level the playing field on health insurance by making health insurance premiums tax deductible and making employer provided health insurance a taxable benefit. Where was this proposal last year? The Wall Street Journal editorial page has been talking about this reform for the better part of the last decade. Of course now that the democrats control congress this proposal has just about zero chance of passing. This smacks of building up an electoral issue instead of trying to improve our nation's laws.

Perhaps the most depressing domestic policy proposal was the President's approach on reducing gasoline consumption by 20%. I do not necessary disagree with the goal, but setting increased fuel efficient standards and requiring the use of more ethanol is nothing more than a heavy handed way for government to regulate the markets. The sight of all the farm state congressmen whopping it up when the President mentioned increasing ethanol use disgusted me because we could easily increase ethanol use by just reducing the tariffs on sugar or ethanol produced by sugar as I have mentioned before. But these guys don't want that. They want the government to require consumers to buy more expensive corn produced ethanol from their constituents. Talk about mafia government...

And while were are on the subject: earmarks. The president's goal is to cut them in half this year. Please. Why not cut them to zero. How hard is that? Oh but then all the lobbyists would have to schlep off to 50 state capitals to make their money. We couldn't have that now could we.

On the Iraq war, I am certainly not happy with the situation, but it is just too important to lose. Any kind of significant US withdraw this year, next year, or probably for the next five years will likely cause even more chaos in the region. We have to stabilize that country. So I am willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt and give his plan a chance to succeed. Nonetheless, why didn't we "plus up" last year or the year before that?

On net I thought the speech was OK, but would have been better if the president had delivered it last year when he actually had congressional support.

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