President Bush's remarks on the military and health care received some praise from Lawrence-area residents Tuesday night, but others wanted to hear more or other ideas on education and energy.
In his State of the Union address, Bush outlined a proposal that would increase the size of the active-duty military by 92,000 soldiers and Marines. He also re-emphasized his earlier proposal to send 20,000 troops to Iraq.
Tonganoxie Police Chief Kenny Carpenter, who recently retired from the U.S. Army Reserve and spent time in Iraq in 2004 guarding military prisons, said the troop increase was long overdue.
"Personally, I thought we needed more troops there when I was there," he said. "I think it's greatly needed. I think it was a mistake to downsize the military in the first place."
Carpenter said Bush was on the right track with his proposals regarding the Iraq war and the military in general. American troops will do what is needed in Iraq, and the only question is whether the Iraqis can do their part to secure the nation, he said.
During the foreign policy section of his address, Bush tried to connect terrorism and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with the Iraq war. The president is trying to buy more time for what has become a difficult situation, said Felix Moos, a Kansas University professor of anthropology and a longtime teacher of a class analyzing violence and terrorism.
State of the Union
"If we stay we are in trouble, and if we leave we are in maybe a little more trouble," Moos said.
Moos also said Americans are averse to wars that last longer than 18 months or two years, which has created a difficult political climate for Bush in trying to sell his war on terror more than five years after 9/11.
"I would like to have heard that we are in this maybe for a whole generation, and we must begin to recognize that because we are at war, we can't do business as usual," Moos said.
Domestically, Bush proposed a health care plan that included a standard tax deduction for individuals and families in the hopes of helping more people afford health insurance.
"I think that's probably the best way to go," said Nikki King, executive director of Lawrence's Health Care Access, a charitable medical clinic for the uninsured. "It's a real reasonable way to go. I don't think it's an overly ambitious angle."
The president's remarks on education issues, while receiving only limited time, invoked some of the harshest reactions.
State of the Union reactions
- Bill Wood, Douglas County Extension Agent for Agriculture, talks about energy.
- Felix Moos, KU anthorpology professor, talks about the War in Iraq.
- Free State High School teacher Jason Pendleton talks about education.
- Lawrence Education Association President Adela Solis talks about education and No Child Left Behind.
- Nikki King, Health Care Access, talks about health care.
- Tonganoxie Police Chief Kenny Carpenter talks about national security.
Adela Solis, president of the Lawrence Education Association, questioned how the president could talk about giving the public a choice to leave public schools in the same breath as talking about improving public schools. Solis took issue, generally, with the No Child Left Behind Act. Its reauthorization was a major proposal of the president's address.
"Some tenets of No Child Left Behind are statistically impossible to achieve," Solis said. "Anyone involved in child development knows that children don't learn at a constant rate."
Solis wanted more specifics and fewer general statements out of the address. If the No Child Left Behind legislation is reauthorized, Solis hopes that more authority would be given to local school districts and educators.
Free State High School teacher Jason Pendleton echoed that sentiment.
"All teachers and administrators want kids to learn and meet goals," he said and added that No Child Left Behind is "a good idea, so long as there are changes that take more input from local school boards and professional educators."
Bill Wood, agriculture agent for K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County, said he was surprised at the brevity with which the president mentioned renewable energy and alternative fuels.
Wood also said Bush's call for technology to help broaden the sources of alternative fuels besides corn still seemed to be years away.
"To do that scientists are going to have to develop better ways to use those products," he said.
Proposals from President Bush's speech:EnergyReduce gasoline usage by up to 20 percent by 2017. Increase fuel economy for new cars.HealthMake employer-financed health care benefits taxable income after a deduction of $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals.EducationAllow poor children to transfer to private schools. Extend the No Child Left Behind program.War on terror/ Iraq/militaryLet troop surge in Iraq to be given a chance to work. Increase Army and Marines by 92,000 soldiers by 2012.Medicare, Medicaid, Social SecurityKeep these entitlements sound so Americans can avoid tax increases, huge deficits and cuts in benefits.ImmigrationApprove comprehensive reform that toughens border security and creates a temporary worker program.