General discussion


State of the Union speech - Feb 2.

By Garion11 ·
The full text of President Bush's State of the Union address on Feb. 02, 2005, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, fellow citizens:

As a new Congress gathers, all of us in the elected branches of government share a great privilege: we have been placed in office by the votes of the people we serve. And tonight that is a privilege we share with newly elected leaders of Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine, and a free and sovereign Iraq.

Two weeks ago, I stood on the steps of this Capitol and renewed the commitment of our Nation to the guiding ideal of liberty for all. This evening I will set forth policies to advance that ideal at home and around the world.

Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going back to work, with our Nation an active force for good in the world ? the state of our union is confident and strong. Our generation has been blessed ? by the expansion of opportunity, by advances in medicine, and by the security purchased by our parents' sacrifice. Now, as we see a little gray in the mirror ? or a lot of gray ? and we watch our children moving into adulthood, we ask the question: What will be the state of their union?

Members of Congress, the choices we make together will answer that question. Over the next several months, on issue after issue, let us do what Americans have always done, and build a better world for our children and grandchildren.

First, we must be good stewards of this economy, and renew the great institutions on which millions of our fellow citizens rely.

America's economy is the fastest growing of any major industrialized nation. In the past four years, we have provided tax relief to every person who pays income taxes, overcome a recession, opened up new markets abroad, prosecuted corporate criminals, raised homeownership to the highest level in history, and in the last year alone, the United States has added 2.3 million new jobs. When action was needed, the Congress delivered ? and the Nation is grateful.

Now we must add to these achievements. By making our economy more flexible, more innovative, and more competitive, we will keep America the economic leader of the world.

America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government. I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline. So next week I will send you a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear: a taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely, or not at all.

To make our economy stronger and more dynamic, we must prepare a rising generation to fill the jobs of the 21st century. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, standards are higher, test scores are on the rise, and we are closing the achievement gap for minority students. Now we must demand better results from our high schools, so every high school diploma is a ticket to success. We will help an additional 200,000 workers to get training for a better career, by reforming our job training system and strengthening America's community colleges. And we will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education, by increasing the size of Pell Grants.

To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits. Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back, by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims ? and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.

To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make health care more affordable, and give families greater access to good coverage, and more control over their health decisions. I ask Congress to move forward on a comprehensive health care agenda ? with tax credits to help low-income workers buy insurance, a community health center in every poor county, improved information technology to prevent medical errors and needless costs, association health plans for small businesses and their employees, expanded health savings accounts, and medical liability reform that will reduce health care costs, and make sure patients have the doctors and care they need.

To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid, and more production here at home, including safe, clean nuclear energy. My Clear Skies legislation will cut power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens. And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology ? from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol. Four years of debate is enough ? I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.

All these proposals are essential to expand this economy and add new jobs ? but they are just the beginning of our duty. To build the prosperity of future generations, we must update institutions that were created to meet the needs of an earlier time. Year after year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax code. I have 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.

America's immigration system is also outdated ? unsuited to the needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing workers, and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, that rejects amnesty, that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.

One of America's most important institutions ? a symbol of the trust between generations ? is also in need of wise and effective reform. Social Security was a great moral success of the 20th Century, and we must honor its great purposes in this new century. The system, however, on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy. And so we must join together to strengthen and save Social Security.

Today, more than 45 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, and millions more are nearing retirement ? and for them the system is strong and fiscally sound. I have a message for every American who is 55 or older: Do not let anyone mislead you. For you, the Social Security system will not change in any way.

For younger workers, the Social Security system has serious problems that will grow worse with time. Social Security was created decades ago, for a very different era. In those days people didn't live as long, benefits were much lower than they are today, and a half century ago, about 16 workers paid into the system for each person drawing benefits. Our society has changed in ways the founders of Social Security could not have foreseen. In today's world, people are living longer and therefore drawing benefits longer ? and those benefits are scheduled to rise dramatically over the next few decades. And instead of 16 workers paying in for every beneficiary, right now it's only about three workers ? and over the next few decades, that number will fall to just two workers per beneficiary. With each passing year, fewer workers are paying ever-higher benefits to an ever-larger number of retirees.

So here is the result: Thirteen years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. And every year afterward will bring a new shortfall, bigger than the year before. For example, in the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra 200 billion dollars to keep the system afloat ? and by 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than 300 billion dollars. By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt. If steps are not taken to avert that outcome, the only solutions would be drastically higher taxes, massive new borrowing, or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs.

I recognize that 2018 and 2042 may seem like a long way off. But those dates are not so distant, as any parent will tell you. If you have a 5-year-old, you're already concerned about how you'll pay for college tuition 13 years down the road. If you've got children in their 20s, as some of us do, the idea of Social Security collapsing before they retire does not seem like a small matter. And it should not be a small matter to the United States Congress.

You and I share a responsibility. We must pass reforms that solve the financial problems of Social Security once and for all.

Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open, candid review of the options. Some have suggested limiting benefits for wealthy retirees. Former Congressman Tim Penny has raised the possibility of indexing benefits to prices rather than wages. During the 1990s, my predecessor, President Clinton, spoke of increasing the retirement age. Former Senator John Breaux suggested discouraging early collection of Social Security benefits. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended changing the way benefits are calculated.

All these ideas are on the table. I know that none of these reforms would be easy. But we have to move ahead with courage and honesty, because our children's retirement security is more important than partisan politics. I will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms. I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer. We must, however, be guided by some basic principles. We must make Social Security permanently sound, not leave that task for another day. We must not jeopardize our economic strength by increasing payroll taxes. We must ensure that lower income Americans get the help they need to have dignity and peace of mind in their retirement. We must guarantee that there is no change for those now retired or nearing retirement. And we must take care that any changes in the system are gradual, so younger workers have years to prepare and plan for their future.

As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make the system a better deal for younger workers.And the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts. Here is how the idea works. Right now, a set portion of the money you earn is taken out of your paycheck to pay for the Social Security benefits of today's retirees. If you are a younger worker, I believe you should be able to set aside part of that money in your own retirement account, so you can build a nest egg for your own future.

Here is why personal accounts are a better deal. Your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current system can deliver ? and your account will provide money for retirement over and above the check you will receive from Social Security. In addition, you'll be able to pass along the money that accumulates in your personal account, if you wish, to your children or grandchildren. And best of all, the money in the account is yours, and the government can never take it away.

The goal here is greater security in retirement, so we will set careful guidelines for personal accounts. We will make sure the money can only go into a conservative mix of bonds and stock funds. We will make sure that your earnings are not eaten up by hidden Wall Street fees. We will make sure there are good options to protect your investments from sudden market swings on the eve of your retirement. We will make sure a personal account can't be emptied out all at once, but rather paid out over time, as an addition to traditional Social Security benefits. And we will make sure this plan is fiscally responsible, by starting personal retirement accounts gradually, and raising the yearly limits on contributions over time, eventually permitting all workers to set aside four percentage points of their payroll taxes in their accounts.

Personal retirement accounts should be familiar to federal employees, because you already have something similar, called the Thrift Savings Plan, which lets workers deposit a portion of their paychecks into any of five different broadly based investment funds. It is time to extend the same security, and choice, and ownership to young Americans.

Our second great responsibility to our children and grandchildren is to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society. So many of my generation, after a long journey, have come home to family and faith, and are determined to bring up responsible, moral children. Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them.

Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

Because a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable, we must strive to build a culture of life. Medical research can help us reach that goal, by developing treatments and cures that save lives and help people overcome disabilities ? and I thank Congress for doubling the funding of the National Institutes of Health. To build a culture of life, we must also ensure that scientific advances always serve human dignity, not take advantage of some lives for the benefit of others. We should all be able to agree on some clear standards. I will work with Congress to ensure that human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown for body parts, and that human life is never bought and sold as a commodity. America will continue to lead the world in medical research that is ambitious, aggressive, and always ethical.

Because courts must always deliver impartial justice, judges have a duty to faithfully interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. As President, I have a constitutional responsibility to nominate men and women who understand the role of courts in our democracy, and are well qualified to serve on the bench ? and I have done so. The Constitution also gives the Senate a responsibility: Every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote.

Because one of the deepest values of our country is compassion, we must never turn away from any citizen who feels isolated from the opportunities of America. Our government will continue to support faith-based and community groups that bring hope to harsh places. Now we need to focus on giving young people, especially young men in our cities, better options than apathy, or gangs, or jail. Tonight I propose a three-year initiative to help organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young men an ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence. Taking on gang life will be one part of a broader outreach to at-risk youth, which involves parents and pastors, coaches and community leaders, in programs ranging from literacy to sports. And I am proud that the leader of this nationwide effort will be our First Lady, Laura Bush.

Because HIV/AIDS brings suffering and fear into so many lives, I ask you to reauthorize the Ryan White Act to encourage prevention, and provide care and treatment to the victims of that disease. And as we update this important law, we must focus our efforts on fellow citizens with the highest rates of new cases, African-American men and women.

Because one of the main sources of our national unity is our belief in equal justice, we need to make sure Americans of all races and backgrounds have confidence in the system that provides justice. In America we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit ? so we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction. Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side.

Our third responsibility to future generations is to leave them an America that is safe from danger, and protected by peace. We will pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy ? and chief among them is freedom from fear.

In the three and a half years since September 11th, 2001, we have taken unprecedented actions to protect Americans. We have created a new department of government to defend our homeland, focused the FBI on preventing terrorism, begun to reform our intelligence agencies, broken up terror cells across the country, expanded research on defenses against biological and chemical attack, improved border security, and trained more than a half million first responders. Police and firefighters, air marshals, researchers, and so many others are working every day to make our homeland safer, and we thank them all.

Our Nation, working with allies and friends, has also confronted the enemy abroad, with measures that are determined, successful, and continuing. The Al Qaeda terror network that attacked our country still has leaders ? but many of its top commanders have been removed. There are still governments that sponsor and harbor terrorists ? but their number has declined. There are still regimes seeking weapons of mass destruction ? but no longer without attention and without consequence. Our country is still the target of terrorists who want to kill many, and intimidate us all ? and we will stay on the offensive against them, until the fight is won.

Pursuing our enemies is a vital commitment of the War on Terror ? and I thank the Congress for providing our servicemen and women with the resources they have needed. During this time of war, we must continue to support our military and give them the tools for victory.

Other nations around the globe have stood with us.In Afghanistan, an international force is helping provide security. In Iraq, 28 countries have troops on the ground, the United Nations and the European Union provided technical assistance for elections, and NATO is leading a mission to help train Iraqi officers. We are cooperating with 60 governments in the Proliferation Security Initiative, to detect and stop the transit of dangerous materials. We are working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and nine other countries have captured or detained Al Qaeda terrorists. In the next four years, my Administration will continue to build the coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time.

In the long term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder. If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror will stalk America and other free nations for decades. The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom. Our enemies know this, and that is why the terrorist Zarqawi recently declared war on what he called the "evil principle" of democracy. And we have declared our own intention: America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies. They seek to impose and expand an empire of oppression, in which a tiny group of brutal, self-appointed rulers control every aspect of every life. Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom will lead to peace.

That advance has great momentum in our time ? shown by women voting in Afghanistan, and Palestinians choosing a new direction, and the people of Ukraine asserting their democratic rights and electing a president. We are witnessing landmark events in the history of liberty. And in the coming years, we will add to that story.

The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories are showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence and failure. Tomorrow morning, Secretary of State Rice departs on a trip that will take her to Israel and the West Bank for meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. She will discuss with them how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress for 350 million dollars to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace is within reach ? and America will help them achieve that goal.

To promote peace and stability in the broader Middle East, the United States will work with our friends in the region to fight the common threat of terror, while we encourage a higher standard of freedom. Hopeful reform is already taking hold in an arc from Morocco to Jordan to Bahrain. The government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future. And the great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East.

To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act ? and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom. Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror ? pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re-processing, and end its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.

Our generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq. That country is a vital front in the War on Terror, which is why the terrorists have chosen to make a stand there. Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we do not have to face them here at home. And the victory of freedom in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the War on Terror, inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, bring more hope and progress to a troubled region, and thereby lift a terrible threat from the lives of our children and grandchildren.

We will succeed because the Iraqi people value their own liberty ? as they showed the world last Sunday. Across Iraq, often at great risk, millions of citizens went to the polls and elected 275 men and women to represent them in a new Transitional National Assembly. A young woman in Baghdad told of waking to the sound of mortar fire on election day, and wondering if it might be too dangerous to vote. She said, "hearing those explosions, it occurred to me ? the insurgents are weak, they are afraid of democracy, they are losing. ? So I got my husband, and I got my parents, and we all came out and voted together." Americans recognize that spirit of liberty, because we share it. In any nation, casting your vote is an act of civic responsibility; for millions of Iraqis, it was also an act of personal courage, and they have earned the respect of us all.

One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia Taleb al-Suhail. She says of her country, "we were occupied for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. ? Thank you to the American people who paid the cost ? but most of all to the soldiers." Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country ? and we are honored that she is with us tonight.

The terrorists and insurgents are violently opposed to democracy, and will continue to attack it. Yet the terrorists' most powerful myth is being destroyed. The whole world is seeing that the car bombers and assassins are not only fighting coalition forces, they are trying to destroy the hopes of Iraqis, expressed in free elections. And the whole world now knows that a small group of extremists will not overturn the will of the Iraqi people.

We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight for their own freedom, and to write their own history. As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech to Congress last September, "Ordinary Iraqis are anxious ? to shoulder all the security burdens of our country as quickly as possible." This is the natural desire of an independent nation, and it also is the stated mission of our coalition in Iraq. The new political situation in Iraq opens a new phase of our work in that country. At the recommendation of our commanders on the ground, and in consultation with the Iraqi government, we will increasingly focus our efforts on helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces ? forces with skilled officers, and an effective command structure. As those forces become more self-reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly be in a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country ? and we will help that proud, new nation secure its liberty.

Recently an Iraqi interpreter said to a reporter, "Tell America not to abandon us." He and all Iraqis can be certain: While our military strategy is adapting to circumstances, our commitment remains firm and unchanging. We are standing for the freedom of our Iraqi friends, and freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come. We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out. We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned.

Right now, Americans in uniform are serving at posts across the world, often taking great risks on my orders. We have given them training and equipment; and they have given us an example of idealism and character that makes every American proud. The volunteers of our military are unrelenting in battle, unwavering in loyalty, unmatched in honor and decency, and every day they are making our nation more secure. Some of our servicemen and women have survived terrible injuries, and this grateful country will do everything we can to help them recover. And we have said farewell to some very good men and women, who died for our freedom, and whose memory this nation will honor forever.

One name we honor is Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas, who was killed during the assault on Fallujah. His mom, Janet, sent me a letter and told me how much Byron loved being a Marine, and how proud he was to be on the front line against terror. She wrote, "When Byron was home the last time, I said that I wanted to protect him like I had since he was born. He just hugged me and said: ?You've done your job, mom. Now it's my turn to protect you.'" Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor freedom's defenders, and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant Norwood's mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood.

In these four years, Americans have seen the unfolding of large events. We have known times of sorrow, and hours of uncertainty, and days of victory. In all this history, even when we have disagreed, we have seen threads of purpose that unite us. The attack on freedom in our world has reaffirmed our confidence in freedom's power to change the world. We are all part of a great venture: To extend the promise of freedom in our country, to renew the values that sustain our liberty, and to spread the peace that freedom brings.

As Franklin Roosevelt once reminded Americans, "each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth." And we live in the country where the biggest dreams are born. The abolition of slavery was only a dream ? until it was fulfilled. The liberation of Europe from fascism was only a dream ? until it was achieved. The fall of imperial communism was only a dream ? until, one day, it was accomplished. Our generation has dreams of its own, and we also go forward with confidence. The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable ? yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.

Thank you, and may God bless America.

Very interesting stuff regarding SS. It is going to be a fun year.

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by Jaqui In reply to State of the Union speech ...

another political speach meaning absolutely nothing.

the shrub doesn't have a clue what he has done wrong.
( like creating such a debt that your great great grandchildren might be the one's to finish paying it off.)
get used to much higher taxes and far less programs from the us government, as they are going to have to slash the budget huge to start paying the debt down.

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Get Real

by maxwell edison In reply to hmmm

First of all, even the president's staunchest opponents wouldn't consider the speech as "meaning absolutely nothing".

In the very least, there's absolutely no doubt that the president intends to advance his agenda to overhaul Social Security, and as a result, the Democrats are in, what could be described as, panic mode. And not even all Republicans are on-board with the proposal, as they have reelections to consider, and they have to pander to their constituents. And regardless of which side of the issue a person might fall, regardless of their person or party of preference, Social Security reform is inevitable -- either now or later. This will be an absolutely huge issue over the coming months and years, perhaps as huge as President Clinton's (failed) health care proposal in 1993. The considerations are numerous, and the repercussions are far-reaching. So to call it "meaning absolutely nothing", is obviously a sentiment based entirely on emotion, and not at all on reason.

You said, "the shrub doesn't have a clue what he has done wrong." See the last half of the last sentence of the previous paragraph.

On "creating a debt".

At this point in time, anyone who blames only one person for the enormous debt load currently being carried by the USA, is either spewing nothing but political rhetoric, or is sadly misinformed and closed-minded -- or both. Our "debt" has been building over the past 100 years; and it has been building quite significantly over the past four decades. Prior to World War Two, the USA really had no significant debt to speak of. The first significant debt was created by the cost of the war in the 40s. That debt was never paid back, and I think that Great Britain is the only nation that even attempted to pay back the USA for the debt we accumulated on other nations' behalf. But alas, the USA's modern-day "debt" was born.

We pretty much treaded water in the 50s, as the US economy literally boomed (the only economy left standing), and the debt actually did see a slight decrease over a one or two year period. But then came the 60s and President Johnson's Great Society programs -- and the beginning of the era of the Great American Handout. The national debt been going up and up and up ever since, and it is now at either 5 trillion dollars or 7 trillion dollars (give or take several hundreds of billions), depending on whom you believe, and depending on whether or not you believe there really is a Social Security "lock-box". (But the better bet would be on the existence of the tooth-fairy.)

Moreover, anyone with the capacity to see the national debt as only one factor in a bigger economic picture, will look at the debt as a percentage of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), as most reputable economists do, and not as a "stand-alone" issue. Did you know, for example, that the national debt, as a percentage of the GDP, was higher at the beginning of President Clinton's second term than it is today, at the beginning of President Bush's second term? Did you also know that the US national debt has seen a significant decline only once in the past 100 years? And that was in the half-dozen years just prior to the Great Depression. Did you know that, within a factor of about 10 percent, the dollars paid out to "entitlement programs" since 1964 EQUALS the EXACT amount of our national debt - about 7 trillion dollars?

And you "blame" President Bush? Yea, right.

When it's all said and done, I don't "blame" President Bush; I don't blame President Clinton either; nor do I necessarily blame Presidents Bush (41), Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, or Johnson. I don't blame the Republican controlled Congress, nor do I blame the previous Democrat controlled Congresses. I don't blame the Democrats and I don't blame the Republicans.

Who do I "blame"? I blame the stupid and greedy voters who are willing to be bribed by political promises, who only vote their own self interest, and who seem to have their hands out at every election asking, what's in it for me. Anyone with a lick of sense will know that a politician will do whatever is necessary to get elected, and offering "bribes" seems to have been flavor of preference for the past forty years. So who's really "to blame"? The people offering the bribe, often-times using scare tactics as an enticement? Or the people stupid enough and greedy enough to accept the bribe?

Borrowing (but changing) a line from President Clinton's 1992 campaign -- "It's the entitlements, stupid!".

It sure would be refreshing to have a discussion with people who aren't so blinded by partisanship and/or their misguided emotions. But that's rare indeed around this "water cooler".

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Agree and disagree

by JamesRL In reply to Get Real

I do agree that Social Security reform is a huge issue that has far reaching implications. I wouldn't typify Republicans who don't support the proposal to be necessarily pandering - thats ascribing a negative motive -could it just be possible that they disagree with the idea on its merits - didnt' some democrats feel the same way about Clinton's plan(which by the way, even as a Canadian who supports our system, I didn't think Clinton's plan was well thought out -doomed to fail even if he had won the vote)?

Government spending is only one aspect of the debt. You are correct in looking at GDP. Canada slashed government spending in the 90s, got to a surplus, but if you really look at the hard numbers, it was the increasing revenues from improvements in trade and increasing GDP that really brought it home. Canada is still in a budget surplus(but waffling on how much of the debt to pay down, versus increasing current spending on things like healthcare).

Clinton did run a small surplus. But Bush was faced with extraordinary expensives for security.

I am of the small school that says that Tax cuts for the rich don'tn stimulate the economy as much as some would have you believe, and it would be better to pay down debt than to lower taxes. Less debt gets you better interest rates, and a huge portion of the deficit goes to paying interest. But thats me. I would like a tax cut once progress towards debt reduction is made, but in Canada, as in the US, tax cuts sell like the sizzle of a steak.


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On Pandering and Taxes

by maxwell edison In reply to Agree and disagree

Yes, politicians do indeed pander. Now that's not to say they are all dishonest sleaze-balls (although some people might categorize them all that way). But consider this. If a politician -- of any party -- came out and said, "Look folks, we need to cut government spending, and I pledge to submit a bill to cut government spending by 10 percent across the board." Or if he said, "Heck no, I'm not going to support that new indoor rain-forest that everybody wants, or that bridge to nowhere that will create local jobs; it's a waste of money". That person would be literally persecuted in the press -- and by the opposing party. All of the sudden he (or she) would be in favor of losing jobs or having people die in the streets.

It's a balancing act. They can't say what they really want to say. That's why they've been so reluctant to take-on the Social Security mess. In that case, they "pander" by continuing to do nothing. Anything else, and they would have to go on the record as either being in support of cutting benefits or raising taxes -- or both. That's why the Democrats, in my opinion, are now taking the position that it's really not that bad. They don't want to touch it. (But compare that to what many of them were saying 4,8, or 12 years ago.) And that's why Republicans are not jumping on the band-wagon in droves either. Their voters will have a "what's in it for me" mentality, and the opponent in the next election, regardless of the party, will certainly remind them of it.

And you're right. Democrats, at least many of them, were against Clinton's Health Care Plan. In fact, both houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats at the time. However, even though many of them were in favor of it in principle, they voted against it because they "pandered" to their constituents in order to get reelected. Americans, in general, were afraid of the government taking over health care. They couldn't point to even one government program that didn't cost more than estimated and/or ran as efficiently as promised. "Government Efficiency" is indeed an oxymoron.

And we're in agreement (surprise!) about the GDP. Increase the national production, thereby increasing the GDP, and revenues will pour in.

And on tax cuts versus tax increases. I suppose I'm not going to say that tax cuts will automatically result in less revenues, but I won't say that they will always result in greater revenues either. The same applies to tax increases. It's all part of the bigger picture.

Can tax cuts result in greater revenue? Absolutely they can. Look at the Kennedy cuts of the 60s and the Reagan cuts of the 80s, and you'll see a HUGE increase in revenue for the years that followed. Unfortunately, especially in the 80s, we also saw a much BIGGER increase in the rate of spending. In the 80s, for example, if the tax cuts were implemented as they were, but along with a spending freeze, there would have been HUGE surpluses in the 80s instead of the HUGE deficits.

Regardless of the connection between the two, if deficits could be seen as tied to SPENDING instead of to tax collections, and taxes seen as connected to revenues, instead of deficits, it could be better managed.

What would you do, for example, if your family revenues increased because you got a big raise or a big bonus, but your savings went down and your credit card debt increased? Would you look for ways to increase your income even more, or would you be more inclined to look for the reasons your family was hemorrhaging money? I think it would be the latter. And I believe that's the best way to approach federal money-management as well.

For the people who believe that tax rate increases will always result in higher total revenues, just ask yourself what would happen if tax rates were increased to 100 percent of a person's income? Personally, I would just quit working and the government would get 100 percent of nothing. How about if they took 90 percent? I'd still quit working and they'd get nothing. On the other end of the spectrum, if the tax rates were reduced to 0 percent, the government would get nothing there either. That's why there's a lot of merit in the Laffer Curve theory. It fluctuates, however, and it's dependent on a lot of factors. So absolutely, tax cuts can indeed result in higher total revenues, but under the right circumstances.

That's why people who are automatically against tax rate cuts because of "what it will cost" are sadly naive. They might not "cost" a damn thing. To the contrary, they just might do the exact opposite - INCREASE revenues.

Finding that "Point T" is a big challenge.

But for Pete's sake, at least tie deficits to spending where they belong. That's really the only honest way to approach it.

Besides, any time the government takes the property of the citizens (taxes), they better be very careful about it.

By the way, 15 percent of our spending goes to pay interest on our debt. Another 15 percent goes to defense/the military. About 10 percent pays for all other functions of government. The remainder -- a whopping 60 percent -- goes to any number of entitlement programs.

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by Jaqui In reply to Get Real

and what does it's statements have to do with me?

so it is absolutely meaningless.
to 90% of the people online.

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You don't live in the US? Then STFU

by Garion11 In reply to hmmm.
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A double hmmm - hmmm.

by maxwell edison In reply to hmmm.

On one hand, as someone who doesn't live in the US, you felt compelled to comment on American business. On the other hand, when someone replies to your comments you suggest they have nothing to do with you because you don't live in the US.

And you people wonder why we don't give a rat's rear what you think? Maybe it's because you don't even know yourself.

hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm - hmmm

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Brace yourself Maxwell, I am about to agree with you

by jardinier In reply to Get Real

"So who's really "to blame"? The people offering the bribe, often-times using scare tactics as an enticement? Or the people stupid enough and greedy enough to accept the bribe?"

We see this over and over in Australia. At one election almost three decades ago, the conservative government produced a TV ad which showed a hand clutching a bundle of notes of various deonominations.

The ad was so successful, the party dropped other ads.

In the October 2004 election, John Howard blew a substantial surpluss in order get re-elected.

At election time, ideologies and long-term policies are put on the backburner to be replaced by offers of quick money to the electorate.

By the way, I thought President Bush's speech was great.
He has very clearly and openly addressed all the issues that face America, especially on the home front.
May the Force be with him.

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Thank You, Julian. . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Brace yourself Maxwell, I ...

...for both this message and the one acknowledging the success of the Iraqi elections.

I must say, I agree with you about the quality of President Bush's speech. He was very comfortable with himself, and the content flowed quite nicely.

On politicians, I've always thought about me as a candidate. I think I can deliver a pretty good message, I can speak fairly well, I can hold my own in a debate, and so on. But I would get slaughtered. People just don't want to hear a "government is not the answer" message.

You know, what I find interesting is this. On one hand, people criticize just about everything about the government and their handling of whatever the program issue of the day happens to be. I mean for Pete's sake, you listen to people and get the impression that government can't do ANYTHING right. (And I agree.)

But on the other hand, they always expect government to handle all their problems from womb to tomb.

I just don't get it.

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Slicing up the cake

by jardinier In reply to Thank You, Julian. . .

Yes Maxwell, to my eternal chagrin, ALL sections of the community want more than their fair share of the hand-out cake.

Another issue that vexes me is that most people do not see the pragmatic reality that for any Government to introduce favourable legislation, it first has to gain power and then stay in power long enough for the public to swallow the bitter pill (more taxes, or reduction of services).

And this is where we come to the sterotyping of all politicians as liars and not to be trusted.

UNFORTUNATELY in order to get elected in the first place, a government has to make election promises that it knows it cannot keep.

I wish people would give politicians a fair go. SOMEONE has to run the country, and I am indebted to those who accept this responsibility, regardless of their motives.

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