Commentary: Bush should ask us to make sacrifices

Last Tuesday, NU College Democrats, NU College Republicans and a strong contingent of unassociated students made their way to afterHOURS to watch the president give his annual State of the Union address. As proud Democrats, and not exactly the biggest fans of President George W. Bush, we were hoping he would surprise us and offer an encouraging plan for our future.

Unfortunately, the president offered no answer to the major questions that will affect the nation’s future on the issues of energy, health care and innovation. Instead, what we heard was more of the same rhetoric we have heard for the last five years; rhetoric that has led us to larger deficits we will have to pay, a frightful situation abroad and no requests of sacrifice from the American people.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, the president named Iraq, Iran and North Korea an “axis of evil.” In 2003, the president decided Iraq was the most pressing threat among these three nations. Now, three years after that pronouncement, we see Iraq was clearly not as threatening as the president claimed.

North Korea, at least, has nuclear material and claims to have weapons. Iran is on a course toward developing nuclear material, and North Korea is already producing weapons-grade plutonium. In our crusade into Iraq, we have neglected real and emerging threats in the world while alienating our allies and damaging our influence. The United States must work to mend these relationships and improve its standing in the world.

The headline of the night was the president’s statement that “America is addicted to oil.” We were hoping the president would have the courage to offer real solutions to this issue and not just clever phrases. The president proposed solving the energy problem through innovation, but this proved to be merely talk, as proposed increases in energy research funding are but “incremental adjustments,” according to a New York Times article (“Call to Cut Foreign Oil Is a Refrain 35 Years Old,” Feb. 1).

What the president forgot to ask for was the sacrifice of the American people. The president did not once use the word “conservation,” nor did he call for higher fuel economy standards or a gas tax that would push Americans toward more energy-efficient vehicles. Subsidies for American auto companies come have come with the gas tax, which would encourage innovation – which would help them regain the strength they once had and would once again make America an industrial leader providing economic growth and jobs.

While the president had spent much of the previous week hyping the issue of health care, he also did not call for much progress in that arena. According to the Center for American Progress, the president said only 170 words on health care. Out of the close-to-5,500-word speech, this is about 3 percent. The fact that the president barely touched on the issue shows the lack of compassion this “compassionate conservative” has for the 46 million Americans who lack health care coverage.

The president has promised the American people $70 billion in tax cuts while spending over $250 billion on a war, but the citizens must sacrifice something for a stronger future. If we choose not to roll back President Bush’s tax cuts while cutting spending, we will face trillions of dollars in debt for the rest of our lives, leaving us with an America that does not resemble the America we have grown up in. We must sacrifice our gas-guzzling cars and conserve energy so we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The president must sacrifice some of his ego abroad and again work with our allies, or we will not be able to win the war on terrorism. As John F. Kennedy said at his inauguration, Americans must again “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

– Joshua K. Robin is a freshman political science major and the vice president of the Northeastern University College Democrats, and Jon Kent is a middler political science major and the political director of the Northeastern University College Democrats.

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