Every January the President addresses Congress and the American people to deliver an assessment of the State of the Union and to present his goals for the year ahead.
Addressing the nation's priorities will involve Republicans and Democrats finding opportunities to work together - that's the message that I hope my colleagues in Congress took away from the President's speech.
In addition to speaking very bluntly about the war on terror, President Bush highlighted several domestic issues of importance to Central Washington and our nation - including achieving energy independence, balancing the budget, making health care more affordable and reforming our immigration system.
With our clean, low-cost hydropower system Pacific Northwest residents understand the importance of renewable energy. I'm encouraged that the President highlighted the need for new energy sources, including the exploration of biofuels and nuclear power - which our nation should embrace as part of meeting our growing energy needs.
Balancing the Budget
President Bush's call for spending reform was on target. By prioritizing and reforming spending, the government can achieve savings and avoid tax increases. I've long supported amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget, and I believe we must address the growth of entitlement programs that increase automatically each year without congressional action or review. I have voted to add accountability to the federal budget process and I support the elimination of unnecessary programs.
Affordable Health Care
Increasing health care choices is one of the best ways to lower costs and hold insurance companies more accountable to patients. We must move away from a government run one-size-fits-all system and towards a flexible system that puts patients and doctors in the driver's seat. President Bush has proposed new tax benefits for those who purchase health insurance on their own rather than through their employer. I look forward to reviewing this proposal and the impacts it would have on employers and workers.
Border Security and Immigration Reform
I believe we must strengthen control over our borders, end illegal immigration and reform the guestworker program so that it meets the needs of our farmers. Central Washington's security, economy and way of life depend on border control and a fair and functional way for workers to come here and fill jobs that Americans are not.
For updates on these and other issues of importance to Central Washington, I encourage you to visit my website at www.hastings.house.gov and sign up for periodic e-mail newsletters.
Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's 4th District.