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April 18, 2024

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Students, faculty sound off about Bush’s address

No one knows what President Bush’s main focus will be during his State of the Union address tonight – but many Americans know what issues they want discussed.

Ashley Hettle, senior, said she wants to know what the President plans to do on the unstable situation in the Middle East – both in Iraq, Iran and Palestine. She said she is tired of hearing about the problems with the economy, education, social security and health care in the U.S.

‘I’ve heard the same story about these issues [economy, education]’hellip;’ she said. ‘I am ready for action, not another speech about the same thing.’

But Hettle might end up hearing a speech about these issues after all. On January 21, in his weekly radio broadcast, President Bush reviewed three domestic themes for his upcoming address – tax cuts, energy prices and the rising cost of health care.

These topics are exactly what Jeff Peake, professor of political science, expected the president to discuss – even though he said the most important issue is the heavily discussed Iraq War.

‘He needs to focus on foreign policy,’ he said. ‘But he should only say something about the Iraq War if he’s got something new to say.’

The War in Iraq is exactly what Donna Kauffman, instructor of sociology, doesn’t want to hear about – specifically from President Bush.

‘I am sure he will give us a pep talk about the war,’ she said. ‘But what I really need to hear about is the casualties and the monetary costs. The State of the Union is just an opportunity for Bush to be a cheerleader for his own programs.’

Kauffman suggests that following the President’s speech a fact checker should speak of the validity of Bush’s speech.

‘Then we could all tune out the President and listen to the facts,’ Kauffman said.

But an opposing view to the President will be heard following the President’s speech. Newly sworn Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, will represent the Democrats in a speech directly following the State of the Union by the President.

‘I expect the State of the Union to set an us versus them,’ Peake said referring to the Repubican and Democratic Parties.

The most debated issues between the two parties is expected to be the economy, said Peake.

The President credits the strengthened economy to the tax cuts he has put into affect during his five years in office.

‘To keep our economy growing and our small-business sector strong, we need to ensure that you keep more of what you earn,’ he said.

Democrats challenge that the tax cuts benefit the wealthy – not the middle class.

In a recent AP-Ipsos poll 39 percent of Americans approve of Bush’s handling of the economy while 59 percent disapprove.

Peake said Bush is at the lowest approval rating during his whole presidency.

Another issue Bush plans to address is the health insurance dilemma. His solution: put pressure on Congress to pass Association Health Plans which allows small businesses to join together to buy insurance at the same discount as big companies.

Democrats said that giving tax breaks to individuals on health care costs draws the healthiest and wealthiest out of traditional employer-based insurance plans, which leaves behind the less well-off in an increasingly expensive system.

Rising energy costs are expected to be discussed as well by the President. The administration said they plan to push development of new technologies and alternative and renewable fuels to make the nation less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

While many important issues are addressed during the State of the Union, Peake said people make too much out of it.

‘These issues have already been addressed by the President several times,’ he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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