“In his last State of the Union speech to the nation, President George W. Bush once again demonstrated why the country is in such dire need of a new direction. Having heard his assessment of the state of America today, I am concerned about his unwillingness to provide real assistance to middle class Americans struggling to make ends meet, his continued trampling of the Constitution – our civil liberties – in the name of national security, and his lack of a plan to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home safely.
“While I am heartened to hear President Bush acknowledge the foreclosure crisis affecting thousands of families across our nation, the fact is that this Administration has come very late to this effort, years after I and others called for regulatory and legislative changes to protect people from the predatory lending practices that have precipitated the highest foreclosure rates in recorded history. The Administration’s efforts are unlikely to work quickly enough to prevent foreclosures for homeowners who deserve a hand.
“For nearly 47 million Americans in this country, lacking health insurance means lacking the ability to afford prescription drugs for chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, getting routine cancer screenings, or taking their children for regular check-ups. For some, being uninsured may ultimately mean the difference between life and death as they are left to choose between paying their mortgage and paying for prescription drugs. The President’s proposal tonight not only fails to make health insurance affordable and attainable for millions of Americans who lack insurance today, but his misguided proposal will erode the insurance coverage that many Americans already have. A comprehensive approach to health insurance is needed in this country, one that provides a real benefit and that builds on the success of existing public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The proposal offered by the President tonight fails on all fronts.
“Also disturbing is how the President is once again using scare tactics to try to erode our civil liberties – this time favoring the rights of his corporate friends over citizens’ rights to privacy when it comes to their phone records. I stand adamantly opposed to retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that may have illegally aided the federal government in warrantless wiretapping, and will do what I can to deny the President the unprecedented and unwarranted expansion of power he seeks.
“President Bush isn’t just shredding the Constitution, he’s failing to keep us safe. Bin Laden is still plotting while we are mired in the sixth year of this disastrous war in Iraq, with no end in sight. Last year saw the highest number of American and Iraqi casualties and yet the Administration is now in negotiations to extend our presence in Iraq for years to come, and is doing so in a way that skirts Congressional approval.
“While I have reservations about President Bush’s assertion that the State of the Union is strong, I have confidence and will do all within my power to ensure its fiscal stability and renewed strength.” [Emphasis added]