Wednesday, February 02, 2005

State of the Union

I promised myself I wouldn't watch. I did anyway. And of course, it was a painful experience that made me want to scream. As usual, Wonkette gives a better summary than I ever could. However, since the blogosphere is all about redundancy, I'll give me thoughts anyway!

Bush clearly is a Superhuman. After promising to cut 150 vague, unspecified federal programs to pay for it, he then promised to a) spend more money on a variety of pet programs b) make his old tax cuts permanent c) give new tax cuts (you and I both know that's what it means to "simplify" the tax code to Republicans) and d) halve the deficit. It's for the children. Or some such BS. Speaking as one of the "next generation," I could do without this particular endowment of debt, thank you very much.

Bush hit new peaks of dishonesty when talking about his plan for Social Security privitization (or "private accounts," or "personal accounts," or whatever tagline we're on right now). First of all, he can't say it "will" earn more than the current plan. It might, but it might not. I was alive in 2001, I know markets can go down as well as up. Second, he implies that gradually implementing the plan will somehow make it cost less. Why this is so, I don't know. For starters, there is only so slowly you can implement a plan that only allows investment of 4% of payroll taxes. But beyond that, Bush's logic is internally inconsistent. If the Social Security problem is getting worse, not better, putting off the costs will just mean we take a greater income hit when the system is more desperately in need of funds. And considering our financial state, I don't know where we're expected to come up with the $1 trillion or so we need to pay for this, gradual or not. Why are we calling this a "solution," again? Bush also refers to a bunch of safeguards he'll have that will prevent people from getting soaked by Wall Street. I'd have to see the specifics to comment, but this sounds like rhetoric to me. I don't see how it's possible to both let people invest their own money (and say the government will "never touch it") and still manipulate those investments so they always come out as a profit. Oh, and speaking of not letting the government touch your Social Security money, well, considering that Bush blatantly raided the Trust Fund across his entire first term, it appears irony is alive and kicking after all.

Moving to Social Issues. I, like Wonkette, was pleased to note that Bush wishes to protect the "most vulnerable" by codifying discrimination against homosexuals into our constitution. I know that Bush is disingenious when it comes to protecting the weak, but its rare to actually see the contradiction unfold within a sentence of the original proposition. Kudos on that.

Lest I sound entirely negative, I did like Bush's words on immigration reform. Many of the specific microinitiatives sounded very good at first glance, in fact the expansion of Health Savings Accounts was the only one that raised an eyebrow. And his rhetoric on Foreign Policy remains appealing, even if I've long since lost hope that Bush will actually do any of the things he'll say he does. The problem with Bush really isn't in his words anymore (though there is that too!), but rather in the fact that his actions bear NO relation to the rhetoric. That makes it kind of hard to take these sorts of speeches seriously.


N.S.T said...

"Simplifying the tax code" is something he literally intedns to do. It isn't secret Republican code for "new tax cuts," it's plain English for "We're going to make the tax code seem less complicated to the average American taxpayer. This is a matter of language, of semantics, not of actually changing the tax system in any substantial way. As for foreign policy, you previously bemoaned that the POTUS was not being tough enough even rhetorically on the specific regimes like the Saudis, the Syrians, the Egyptians, and the like. The speech contained stern words for all of those governments, so why aren't you at least a bit pleased and encouraged? Stop being so cynical.

jack said...

1. Nick, changing the wording of tax forms isn't really important enough to include in the State of the Union now is it. "Year after year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax code. I've appointed a bipartisan panel to examine the tax code from top to bottom. And when their recommendations are delivered, you and I will work together to give this nation a tax code that is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all."

He doesn't say "phrasing" or "text" he means he is simplifying the CODE. ie. the law. Lots of things are simple. A flat tax simple.

2. David, I didn't watch but I read the text this morning. While most of the speech was the same old crap I was struck by how much seemed to be coming from the left. Granted a lot of it was empty rhetoric but the social plans were striking. Particularly the Anti-Gang and Defense Attorney stuff. His proposals won't really change the economic marginalization that is the root of the problem but at least it looks like he cares about the inner city.

Anonymous said...

i love when republicans get overly defensive about bush! it's like that kid on the highschool mathteam who got mad when some bashed anime.

N.S.T said...

1. jack: "Bipartisan" means "bipartisan." Perhaps you should blow up about how Bush is runing the tax system after it happens, but in the mean time have a little faith.

2. Anonymous, Since President Bush just got elected with the most votes in history, I think liking him is just a tad more socially acceptable than liking anime. And the fact that you even have stories to tell us from yuor high school math team speaks volumes