Opinion

President Romney’s 2014 State of the Union address

Tom Rogan Commentator

What if Romney had won? What would his State of the Union have looked like? Here’s one take on how he might have addressed three major issues; health care reform, the economy, and Iran.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans.

Tonight, even amidst the cold bite of our continuing divisions, there is great hope to be found in America. Tonight, we’re witnessing an economy that’s returning to solid growth. Tonight and together, we’re looking towards a new day in which the specter of debt no longer haunts our children’s future. And tonight, after thirteen years of war in Afghanistan, our military has given us the hope of a hard-won peace.

Healthcare

It’s probably fair to say that very few issues have divided us like the debate over health care.

To some degree, this was always inevitable. Facing an issue as serious and as personal as health care, our disagreements were never going to be quiet. Still, regardless of our political stripes, we owed the American people better than barely veiled fury. We should have realized that just as a splint cannot cure cancer, rigid ideology does not serve the well-being of the American people.

Even then, it’s important that we also recognize another truth. Ultimately, none of us meant ill in this debate. We all want an America that is served by broader access to more effective medicine. My predecessor believed that with a passion, and so do I. But in the end, as much as I greatly respect what my predecessor aimed to achieve with his law, its merits were outweighed by problems.

And so, with Democrats and Republicans at a new table we’re forging a new path. Shortly, we’ll present a different health care plan to the American people. And though it might surprise some, my fellow conservatives not least, this plan will involve proposals from my predecessor. While the details haven’t been finalized, here are some things you should expect.

First, you can be confident that if you wish to do so, you’ll be able to retain the insurance plan you have at the moment. We’ll be expanding health savings accounts that you can shelter from the tax man and put away for your family’s health care needs. We’ll make sure that your health care needs are determined by you and not by a bureaucrat. Second, you can be confident that if you have a pre-existing condition, you’ll soon be able to find coverage.We’ll be creating Federal risk pools that will help carry the weight of a burden for which you are not to blame.

Third, if you’re an employer, you’ll soon have the option to join with other businesses to buy insurance at lower costs and across state boundaries. Fourth, if you’re a medical professional, you should expect an end to endemic, frivolous lawsuits. Fifth, we’re going to do far more to make medical treatment costs more transparent and the health care market more efficient. There’s something very wrong when a hip replacement varies in price by tens of thousands of dollars.

Sixth, we’re going to have to do something difficult. In America at present, those who buy insurance for themselves are left in an unfair tax position when compared to those who receive insurance from their employer. That can’t continue. And so, in order to make sure that a level playing field exists and to ensure that personal responsibility sits at the heart of American health care, employer provided health plans will be subject to an income-tax form assessment. I know that won’t be popular. But the simple truth is that health care reform cannot be easy. It’s too complex. And with health care inflation destroying real income growth for the middle class, doing nothing is not an option. The well-being of Americans and the success of our economy both demand urgent action. And action is coming.

Economy

It’s true, during the great recession America’s confidence took a hit. But as we always do, we’re standing up stronger.

Together, we’re working to literally lay the foundations for a more prosperous America. We’re supporting private-public partnerships to fund critical infrastructure projects; improved roads, railways, and bridges that will help carry commerce to new destinations with greatly increased speed.

But we’re doing other things as well.

At my direction, a bipartisan committee of experts is studying how we can reform our tax code. We’ll seek options that can lower tax rates and close inefficient loopholes. We’ll find ways to cut the complexity that makes tax day such a nightmare for so many Americans and so exciting for so many lawyers. We’ll improve our corporate tax governance system so that American companies are encouraged to hire and invest at home, rather than ship jobs overseas. In all of this, we’ll seek to make America a better place for jobs and investment.

We’ve also begun to embrace the energy boom that looms on the horizon. From Texas to North Dakota, the proof is in the jobs. If we have the courage to be bold, as our approval for the Keystone Pipeline will soon show, hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs are just around the corner. And finally, America will be able to win our independence from foreign energy. Of course, riding the boom and preventing a bust will take comprehensive action; we’ll need to make our energy development permit system much more efficient. And while we ensure protection for our environment, we’ll also need to simplify regulations that deter opportunity.

Finally, we’re beginning to face up to the greatest domestic challenge of our era: Entitlement reform.

I know that this chamber is full of many opinions on what we should and should not do here. Still, I also know with absolute certainty that if we do nothing, our children will suffocate in a future of debt and our seniors will be left without the services they need and deserve. Our focus is therefore threefold. First, making sure that entitlements go to those who need them most. Second, reducing costs and fraud, and improving efficiencies in the delivery of services. Third, recognizing that with longer lives, eligibility ages and rules will have to change. But just as I will not push this crisis to another president, you must not push it to another Congress. Together, all of us must be willing to make hard choices and concessions. America’s future depends on it.

Iran

And for all the challenges and opportunities that we face around the world, few are as significant as that posed by the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran.

Since 2003, myself and my two predecessors have worked with our international partners to offer Iran two simple choices. First, to allow inspections that would enable the world to verify that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. That path leads to Iran rejoining the community of nations.

Second, to warn the Ayatollahs that if they continue to reject serious diplomacy, we’ll use other means to enforce their compliance.

Clearly, our preference is Iran’s acceptance of the first choice. After years of instability and conflict, all of us would prefer diplomacy that’s mutually cooperative and mutually beneficial.

Unfortunately however, even after all these years, Iran’s nuclear development is continuing. So far, we’ve failed to persuade Iran to join in meaningful negotiations to end its nuclear enrichment. And so, with our allies, we’ve tightened sanctions on the Ayatollahs. We’ve done so with reluctance, but also resolve. We understand that peace and stability in the Middle East are on the line here. Were Iran to go nuclear, their support for terrorism would gain the presumptive shield of nuclear blackmail. From Bahrain to Iraq to Lebanon to Yemen, Iran’s intimidation would grow exponentially. And a nuclear arms race would almost certainly follow. Sectarian fears and hatreds would likely spill out of control – inflicting more misery upon innocent Christians, Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites across the region. Our close ally Israel would be left facing a nation committed to its destruction and armed to that agenda.

I will not allow that world to come to pass.

And so, in the coming days, my administration will present Congress with a further sanctions bill. As has been reported, these proposals will include an economic blockade.

And let me be clear. Though a diplomatic solution, either by consensus or pressure, remains our favored course, if Iran fails to end its nuclear program, I will authorize military force to stop them.

My fellow citizens, much work lies ahead of us. The past few years have not been easy. Neither will the next few. But if we believe in a better day and are willing to strive towards it unity, that day will come to pass. This is a certainty for which we have proof here in this chamber. Sitting on the balcony above us is an American soldier named Cory Remsburg. In October 2009, on his 10th deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

His comrades found him in a canal; face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain. For months, he lay in a coma. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, hours of grueling rehab every day. Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again, and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.

“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”

Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.

Let us live that motto. As Cory and his fellow servicemen and women have honored us, let us now honor them. Tying our political courage to patriotic virtue, working together, it’s our time to serve the country we love.

May God bless the United States of America.