(Chicago, Illinois – January 24, 2007) The following statements are in response to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address delivered last night (January 23, 2007). Please feel free to contact the respective experts for further comment. If you need assistance call me at 312/377-4000 or email [email protected].
Sean Parnell ([email protected] – 312/377-4000) is vice president for external affairs at The Heartland Institute:
“The president made a significant and welcome proposal to reform the tax treatment of health insurance, a reform that will lead to more people being insured. By giving individually purchased and employer-purchased health care identical tax breaks, insurance will be more affordable for millions of Americans who are self-employed, or who can’t afford or are not offered insurance through their employer.
“This tax change supports the transformation of our health care system to a market-oriented system where patients and doctors are in charge, not government, employers, and insurance companies. Only when consumers are encouraged to make the same kinds of choices with their health care they make in other areas of their lives will the costs of health care become transparent and access more common.
“Another key to the president’s approach to health care is Health Savings Accounts. The president’s commitment to this vital tool for efficient delivery of health care, combined with his innovative proposal for a standard deduction for health insurance, represent much-needed reforms that can significantly reduce health costs and the number of uninsured.”
Energy and the Environment
James M. Taylor ([email protected] – 941/776-5690) is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute:
“The president should be commended for refusing to cave in to demands for mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions. Science does not support the speculative and often far-fetched predictions of imminent climate catastrophe. Moreover, mandatory caps on carbon dioxide are a poor means of addressing such fears.
“Mandatory carbon dioxide caps have failed miserably in the European Union, where politicians make grandiose pledges and commitments, only to see emissions continue to rise. European leaders have learned that the only way to implement them is to ruin their respective economies. The president’s approach–to encourage research and the exchange of climate-friendly technologies, while continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of economic activity–is a far better approach to speculative global warming fears.
“However, the president’s call for increased use of alternative fuels amounts to government forcing consumers to buy more expensive fuel and will certainly do more harm than good. Gasoline is the fuel of choice for automobiles because it is the most economical. Directing valuable economic resources to less-economical fuel sources will hurt rather than help the economy. Private companies can and will do a better job than the federal government determining which energy sources will ultimately replace gasoline and when such a transition makes sense.”
George Clowes ([email protected] – 847/255-1820) is senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute:
“Thanks to the reporting requirements of No Child Left Behind, parents trying to choose a school for their child now can easily compare different public schools on a variety of measures. However, President Bush is right to issue a warning about ‘watering down standards,’ because many states, including Illinois, have lowered their standards so more schools will appear to meet the No Child Left Behind requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress. Fortunately, an independent measure of a state’s educational progress is available from annual federal tests conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
“President Bush is also right to call on Congress to give parents the right to choose something better when they find their children stuck in failing schools. The current transfer option in No Child Left Behind has been poorly implemented: Many districts have not done a good job informing parents about their transfer options and few transfer slots have been made available. Districts need to treat failing schools like ‘a house on fire,’ as former Education Secretary Richard Riley once put it, and help children quickly transfer to other public schools and to private schools.
“President Bush also called for ‘strengthening math and science skills’ to ensure children are prepared for the future job market and to make the U.S. more competitive. However, this grossly overstates the problem: What is needed is simply teaching math skills, which are given short shrift in many schools, leaving children reliant on using calculators for getting quick answers to even rudimentary multiplication and division problems.”