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State of the Union Reactions on Energy, Health Care

January 24, 2007

While Iraq played a big role in President Bush's State of the Union address, he also tackled domestic issues including energy and health care. The President called for a 20 percent cut in gasoline consumption nationwide, with ethanol and other bio-fuels making up the difference. Kurt Zwally with the National Wildlife Federation says cutting gasoline use will help fight global warming, but federal emissions caps are needed, too. He believes Wisconsin can take the lead in providing clean, alternative energy.

"There's a number of different types of energy resources in Wisconsin. There's wind resources, which some of your utilities have already begun putting in place. There's also the opportunity to grow bio-fuels like President Bush is talking about."

Zwally adds Wisconsin can also improve its use of coal energy by switching to coal gasification plants that emit less global warming pollution.

When it comes to health care, the President proposed tax deductions on private health insurance, which would be paid for with tax increases for people with employer health coverage. Lisa Lamkins with AARP-Wisconsin applauds the President for tackling the problem, but she warns his proposal is only one small step toward a solution.

"We have 48 million Americans who are uninsured, and millions more who are vulnerable to losing their coverage, or just one illness away from financial devastation. We need to look at a whole way of redefining the system and making the system work for people"

Robert Kraig with Citizen Action of Wisconsin worries the plan won't help most uninsured people afford coverage, and he says it's up to the states to take the lead.

"In Wisconsin there are three very good comprehensive health care reform plans that have a lot of support, so there's a real chance of doing something here and setting a model for the rest of the country."

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WI