Improving the State of Our Union
By Tom Cole
When the President addressed the nation last week he didn't offer a laundry list of proposals, but instead focused on a few priority issues that he believes will improve the quality of life for every American, improve our national security and move our country into the future. These themes he discussed in his address will guide our legislative agenda this year.
The first half of the President's State of the Union address was on the issue he has emphasized the most since 9/11, domestic security and the War on Terror. It was the most prominent part of his speech, the most memorable and certainly the most important. The President rejected calls to cut and run. Instead he reiterated his strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists, both in Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world. I believe he is right, we must stay the course and take the necessary precautions to protect our country. In this case the best defense really is a good offense. We must also give our troops every resource they need to be successful. Congress will certainly be taking up this issue again this year.
The President also has a vision for American, here at home. It centers on affordable health care, American competitiveness in the world and alternative energy sources.
I agree with the President that we must start improving affordable access to quality health care. In his State Of The Union address, President Bush proposed a comprehensive agenda to make health care in America more accessible to more people. The President's health care agenda includes: expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs); making health insurance more portable; improving information on price and quality to make health care more transparent; leveling the playing field for individuals and small business employees; passing medical liability reform; improving access to health information technology; and assisting vulnerable Americans. I hope we will be able to start making some of these reforms this year.
Another focus of President Bush's address was new energy initiatives to help decrease America's dangerous dependence on foreign sources of oil. The President has set a national goal of replacing more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. His proposals will accelerate breakthroughs in two vital areas; how we power our homes and businesses; and how we power our automobiles. Last year Congress sent the first comprehensive energy legislation in over a decade to the President. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 is strengthening America's electrical infrastructure, reducing the country's dependence on foreign sources of energy, increasing conservation and expanding the use of clean renewable energy. I know we can build on this legislation and put our country on a path to energy independence.
The last major imitative the President proposed in his State Of The Union Address was the American Competitiveness Initiative to encourage American innovation and strengthen our nation's ability to compete in the global economy. This plan will increase Federal investment in critical research, ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in opportunity and innovation and provide American children with a strong foundation in math and science. I believe this is also an important proposal to ensure America remains the economic leader of the world in the future.
The President knows that we are living in historic times and that the decisions we make today will determine the world we live in tomorrow. I hope that this year both sides of the aisle will be able to work together to move America forward and spread freedom around the globe.