Address focuses on military, economy
By Ray Hafner
Daily Cougar Staff
Under heightened security, President Bush delivered his first State
of the Union address Tuesday night, focusing on the war
on terrorism, domestic defense and reviving the economy.
He also criticized corporate mismanagement. Without specifically mentioning
Enron, Bush said, "Corporate America must be
made more accountable to employees and shareholders and be held to
the highest standards of conduct."
He called for Congress to enact legislation that would protect employees'
401(k) and pension plans as well as develop
"stricter accounting standards and tougher disclosure requirements."
Bush began with a review of the military action in Afghanistan but warned,
"Our war against terror is just beginning."
After praising Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and urging timid
nations to take action, Bush went on to specifically
name North Korea, Iran and Iraq as "evil" regimes intent on developing
weapons of mass destruction.
The State of the Union address took an international focus with Bush's
call to allies and promise that "America will do what is
necessary to ensure our nation's security."
Turning from the war on terrorism, Bush announced the largest defense
spending increase in two decades, both for
improvements in the military and improved security at home.
Bush pledged to deploy an effective missile defense program, give a
pay raise to the armed forces and ensure the military
has "the best weapons, the best equipment and the best training."
He called for replacing aging aircraft and making the entire military
The increase doubles defense spending for improving homeland security
in four major areas: bioterrorism, emergency
response, airport and border security and improved intelligence.
Bush said he believes these improvements will lead to better health
care through the development of vaccines and safer
neighborhoods through better firefighters and police. He also said
he believes tighter borders would help stem the flow of
Bush praised Americans and their reaction to trying times throughout
his address, specifically citing the bravery of two flight
attendants who helped stop attempted suicide bomber Richard Reid.
Bush also thanked Marine and CIA officer Micheal Spann, who was killed
in Mazar-e-Sharif. Spann's widow, Shannon, was
The final key issue was the economy. Bush summed his entire program
up in one word: "jobs."
Bush proposed expanded health coverage and unemployment benefits but
said that, rather than handouts, Americans "want
a steady paycheck."
Bush spent little time on the specifics of his economic plan, and instead
used it to segue into education reform. Reminding
Americans of his promise to leave no child behind, Bush praised the
bipartisan effort on achieving reform.
He even joked that it gave him something nice to say about Sen. Ted
Kennedy (D-Mass.), a vocal critic of Bush's handling of
Bush said he would like to promote child development programs. In addition,
he said he wants to improve teacher colleges
and launch a recruiting drive to put a "quality teacher in every classroom."
He also called for Americans to volunteer 4,000 hours of service to
neighbors and the nation. Bush then invited them to
perform that service in the USA Freedom Corps.
The new corps is an expansion of AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and the Peace
Corps. It will seek to respond to crises, rebuild
communities and spread goodwill internationally.
Other issues included a cleaner environment, prescription drugs for
senior citizens and broader home ownership amongst
Bush concluded by again taking time to address terrorists. Of the terrorists
who he said believed America weak and
materialistic, he said, "They were as wrong as they were evil."
Bush's approval ratings in the war on terrorism are especially high.
The thematic speech sandwiched issues like the
economy between his strongest point.
The Democratic rebuttal from House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt virtually
echoed Bush's address. In a show of support,
Gephardt did not argue a single one of Bush's points and even praised
the tax cut. He did specifically mention Enron and
also called for tighter regulations of corporations and protections
for retirement plans.
Harmid Karzai, the interim president of the Afghanistan coalition, was
in attendance and sat alongside First Lady Laura Bush.
He received vigorous applause upon entering.
Vice President Dick Cheney did in fact sit behind Bush during the speech,
following rumors that he would not attend out of the
contingency plan for presidential succession.
Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton was not in attendance for security