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The President's State Of The Union Speech

Location: Washington, DC

THE PRESIDENT'S STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH -- (House of Representatives - January 23, 2007)

Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, well, this evening the President, in bowing to the electoral reality of last November and, with finally some recognition of real problems confronting our Nation and our citizens, is about to begin, in his State of the Union, to address the issue of the need for an expansion of health insurance. Forty-six million Americans lack health insurance, 1 million more per year every year this President has been in office. He will also address the issues of energy efficiency, energy independence, and global warming; and we welcome some remarks from the President in those areas. And he is going to address the debt and the deficit.

We welcome this new focus on these extraordinarily important and difficult issues that have been pretty much ignored during his Presidency. Unfortunately, his rhetorical U-turn is not going to be matched by the reality of his proposals. In order to provide health insurance to 46.1 million people who don't have it, he says we should tax people who do have health insurance.

Now, that is interesting because the President, of course, gets his health insurance for free. And his proposal would also extend tax benefits to the wealthiest among us because many people who don't have health insurance can't benefit from tax breaks. They don't pay Federal income taxes.

That is not a real solution. A real solution would be to take on the antitrust immunity of the insurance industry, estimated to raise $45 billion, saving consumers that money. That is the cost of uninsured health care in America.

Energy efficiency and independence, well, we will wait and hear what the President has to say. But remember a year ago, he talked about our addiction to oil, and all his policies have been designed to further that addiction thus far.

On the debt and the deficit, he still wants to cut taxes for the wealthiest among us. He wants to extend, to make permanent, all of his tax cuts; exempt all estates from taxes; and says he is going to balance the budget. Well, if he was really going to do that by the year 2012, he would have to eliminate the Federal Government except for the Department of Defense, a little bit of the Department of Homeland Security, because the projected deficit is as large as about the rest of the discretionary budget if his tax cuts are maintained. You have to begin to raise revenues from the wealthiest among us to address this gaping maw hole, the deficit.

And then there is one very important problem where he isn't even pretending to change direction, one where a majority of the American people and a majority of the United States disagree with the President's nostrum, and that is his desire to escalate the war in Iraq as a way out. Defying his own Joint Chiefs of Staff and the senior officers and advisers in the military; defying the Prime Minister of Iraq, who said we shouldn't put more Americans into Baghdad; defying the American people; and defying this Congress, the President is going to offer us more stay the course in Iraq and try to spin it into a new policy that will lead to success.

We want to succeed, but to succeed, the Iraqi Government has to be willing to take on some of its own problems. The Shiias and the Sunnis have got to stop slaughtering each other trying to settle a 1,400-year-old grudge and putting us in the middle of their civil war. They have got to begin to meaningfully share power, and they have got to begin to resolve their own issues. And the U.S. sending more troops is not going to lead them down that path.

So I fear that what the President is proposing there will lead to more conflict. It may look good in the short term, but long term it is not going to resolve this very difficult issue.

I hope that the President offers us some real changes in direction tonight and not just a rhetorical U-turn to bow to the reality of the elections.

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