State of the Union: The People's Agenda

Published 9:09 pm Monday, January 30, 2006

By By Tray Smith
On Tuesday, the President will deliver his annual State of the Union address. But more than just reporting on the strong state of our union, the President will lay out his agenda for making the union even stronger. Several problems face our country, and this address is a great opportunity for the President to present his solutions. In the process, he could also greatly benefit his legacy and help Republicans running in this year's midterm elections.
Forming an agenda that will both excite the public and pass through Congress during an election year is a challenging task. But if the President focuses on the problems that are important to the American people, offers meaningful and popular solutions, and presents his proposals in a formidable manner, he will find himself up to the challenge.
First, the President must address our current energy crises. Our dependence on foreign sources of energy is crippling our nation's economy and our national security. We must form a roadmap to energy independence.
Americans are paying more and more at the pump. High fuel prices are preventing our economy from exploiting its full growth potential. The President must use his State of the Union address to present a formidable solution to our energy problems. We should increase our own domestic energy supplies, increase fuel efficiency standards for U.S. automobiles, and invest in technologies so that our economy can be powered from clean and renewable sources by 2020. Just as JFK left a lasting legacy by setting the stage for our trip to the moon, President Bush could do his legacy a great service by putting us on the road to energy independence.
Second, President Bush must address immigration. Our current immigration problems expose us to great risk of terrorism and drug smuggling. The President must present a reform plan that makes our boarder more secure without alienating Hispanic voters. Ideally, he will propose a security fence backed up by a larger boarder patrol to secure our southern and northern boarders; along with a legal guest-worker program for people who want to work in the United States.
The President must also address federal spending. The administration has recently projected the 2006 budget deficit to exceed 400 billion dollars. That is unacceptable. The President must single out a number of items for cuts or eliminations, return to the Republican principal of fiscal responsibility, and renew his request for a line-item veto and balanced budget amendments. The American people have to balance their budget, and their government should, too. We should accept no less.
Third, President Bush must address our dysfunctional health care system. This issue continues to burden the bank accounts of America's families, small businesses, and large businesses alike. This issue is also an issue that affects America's competitiveness in the global market place, as several companies locate in other countries where they can insure their employees at a lower rate.
The President should lay out a reform plan that will move us beyond our flawed system of health insurance, and expand market forces to bring better quality for a lower price to more Americans. The President's plan should expand these market principles to Medicare and Medicaid in order to help reduce the huge burden that these programs represent to tax payers. He should also push to reduce the frivolous law suits that now place an unnecessary burden on our world class doctors and hospitals.
Fourth, as we continue to take advantage of the innovations of the twenty first century, we must ensure that we are competitive on a global field in math, science, and technology. The President should propose a comprehensive program to help our schools provide our students with the best math and science education available in the world. President Bush should also lead a new effort to recruit more people into science and engineering fields by providing more assistance for college tuition, employ more science and math teachers, and double the amount of money spent annually on federal research. A science and math initiative in this form would also help in other areas such as energy and health care, as new technologies will lead to lower cost in those sectors.
The final issue that the President should address is tax reform. Currently, we have a monstrous tax code that pry's into every aspect of the lives of our citizens and permits politicians in Washington to dictate economic activities. It also cost us billions of dollars and hundred of hours in compliance cost. The President should propose a FairTax (National Retail Sales Tax) of 23 percent to replace ALL federal taxes. While this proposal will definitely be controversial, it will also rouse the conservative base and could propel the GOP to another victory at the polls in November. No issue will turn out grass roots support more than this one.
Combined, addressing these problems with these solutions will help make our country more competitive in the global market place, and they will help us to make possible a better American future. That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a political columnist for the Atmore Advance. He can be reached for contact at His column appears weekly.

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