The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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State of the Union

Of bombs, tax cuts and hydrogen-powered cars

President Bush’s third State of the Union address struck a somber chord appropriate for a nation preparing for war. There was no tip of the hat to his wife, or to the foreign guests who often seem to come over just for the free CNN screentime. But not all was well in Washington Tuesday night. The pounding of war drums continued to grow louder as talk of tax cuts for America’s wealthy threatened to drain even more funds from an already out-of-balance federal budget. Bush covered a lot of territory in his speech, and much of it deserves consideration here.

The good

They say you shouldn’t say anything if you can’t say something nice – advice that doesn’t really work for editorials. However, we can begin this discussion by considering the most acceptable of Bush’s proposals. The president outlined plans to provide funding to help Africa,which is in the throws of a major AIDS crisis. He also threw his support behind research into hydrogen-powered automobiles, medical liability reform and adding a prescription drug plan to Medicare. All well and good, and much of it admirable, though one must wonder what all of this is going to cost. With our budget already swimming in an ocean of red ink, more spending without corresponding revenue increases isn’t just a bad idea, its downright irresponsible.

The not so good

And what about those revenue levels? Sounding like a broken record, President Bush is again calling for increased tax cuts, particularly ones that benefit the richest Americans. Of particular consternation is the president’s plan to end all taxes on stock dividends, which are disproportionately earned by the wealthy. The president justifies this cost by complaining that such dividends are “double taxed.” That’s all well and good, but if he’s truly worried about double taxation, why not exempt Social Security and Medicare taxes from income taxation? This form of double taxation affects far more Americans than taxes on stock dividends.

Exemption of Medicare and Social Security taxes would also pump more money into the lagging economy, which is part of Bush’s justification for cutting taxes while the nation is running deficits.

The bad

However, the focus of Bush’s speech wasn’t new spending programs, or ill-advised tax cuts, but war on Iraq – a war for which Bush has still failed to make a case. The president seems to believe that if he keeps repeating the same charges against Hussein that eventually they will be accepted as true. But such is not the way of the world. If Bush has a smoking gun, he needs to show the world his evidence. The longer he plays his cards close to his chest, the more it seems that he is bluffing. If the president has nothing but charges against Iraq, then he has no case for war.

Bush wants war, or at least appears to. That’s fine. But war should not be engaged on a presidential whim, but only when substantial evidence of a clear and present danger has been presented to the public. Make your case, Mr. President, if you want your war. Otherwise, please focus more on AIDS in Africa and prescription drugs – initiatives which may actually save lives, instead of end them.

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