First, a tip of the hat. The President’s salute to Nancy Pelosi was clever and classy.
But he just has no credibility talking about domestic problems in this country. The President wants a balanced budget and no tax increases. He says he wants to offer health insurance tax deductions for people - though most people who need insurance don’t make enough money to take advantage of the tax credit. Presumably, he is doing it this way because he thinks direct reimbursement of providing health insurance would be too expensive. He wants to reauthorize the “No Child Left Behind Act’ for education though he doesn’t want to give the schools any more money. Presumably that’s too expensive. He wants energy independence but won’t increase the royalties paid by oil companies for extracting oil on federal land or suggest new federal subsidies for alternative fuels. Presumably that’s too expensive.
How expensive? For the cost of the war today in Iraq, we could fund a significant portion of the above and still have money left. We could give universal pre-school for every child in this country and cover their health care costs - and still have money left. We could double health research for Cancer, AIDS and heart disease and still have money left. We could add to that a tripling of funds we have given to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and still have money left. And what? You say what about national secuirty because of the terrrist threat? Oh yes, we could also fund port screening, and rail and ship carrier screenings and other first responder needs.
If our national domestic priorities were truly meaningful for the President, they wouldn’t be too expensive.
The Democratic response from Senator Webb needs to applaud the President for putting domestic issues back on the agenda and not let him get away with shortcutting a rational explanation about his goals and exit strategy for Iraq. And then Democrats need to show the country why we have sought their leadership in the Congress once again. And Jim Webb needs to pull out his best story telling face.