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John Kerry Responds to State of the Union Address: Bush “Described a Fantasyland”

by Pamela Leavey

The talking heads are busy spinning Bush’s State of the Union Speech… Here’s the response to the SOTU from Senator John Kerry:

President Bush tonight described a very different state of our union than the one most Americans live with every day. In fact, he described a fantasyland. In Republican Washington, the rhetoric continues to mislead and the promises continue to be broken. It’s going to take more than poll-tested lines in a speech to strengthen our union. It’s going to take change in Washington to make America stronger.

“President Bush refuses to tell the truth about America’s dependence on oil. It’s the Bush Administration and Washington Republicans who are addicted to oil, and this Administration refuses to break the dependence that undermines our economy and threatens our security. America’s dependence on oil has gotten worse on this President’s watch. He won’t acknowledge that Vice President Cheney let lobbyists write an energy bill behind closed doors that’s helped the big oil companies earn record profits while Americans are squeezed at the pump. We can’t drill our way to energy independence, we must invent our way there, but we can’t do it if this President won’t tell the truth about our energy future.

President Bush uses national security as a political weapon while day by day we become less secure. We’re bogged down in Iraq where there were no weapons of mass destruction while Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, North Korea has quadrupled its nuclear weapons, Iran is closer to nuclear weapons, and Hamas has come to power. Our brave men and women in uniform deserve presidential leadership equal to their sacrifice. Americans deserve the truth. President Bush needs to stop retreating from reality. We can’t afford leadership that still cuts and runs from the truth.

“Here at home, middle class families work harder to make ends meet as pensions disappear, credit card debt mounts, and health care costs soar while President Bush’s tax policies continue to shift the burden from wealth to work. President Bush won’t tell the truth about their America. Health care premiums are up, the ranks of the uninsured continue to grow, and seniors still struggle to afford prescription medication while lobbyists for the big drug companies write legislation that guarantees big profits. President Bush won’t tell the truth about that America.

“The Washington corruption and cronyism that got top White House aides indicted and left a political hack in charge of FEMA when Hurricane Katrina struck still run rampant. But President Bush won’t reform the party he leads, and the Gulf Coast is still waiting for the help the president promised months ago. For Americans whose trust in government has been broken or Louisianans waiting for relief, this Administration isn’t doing a ‘heck of a job.’ Hurricane force spin won’t change that, only real leadership will.

“In our America, we can achieve anything we set our minds to. It’s time for President Bush to be straight with the American people about the challenges we face and the consequences of his failed policies. Only then will we build a stronger union in 2006.”

# # #

STATE OF THE UNION REALITY CHECK

Tax Policy – President Bush’s tax policies have shifted the tax burden from wealth to work. President Bush advocates that making his tax policies permanent will keep the economy and the small business sector strong, but his tax policy has turned surpluses into deficits. His tax policy is skewed towards the highest income earners. Ninety-nine percent of households with small-business income do not benefit from a reduction in the top income tax rate or the repeal of the estate tax.

Competitiveness – President Bush claims he wants to increase American competitiveness by improving the quality of education in our country. However, tuition and fees have increased 57 percent for a public four-year college and 32 percent for a private four-year college since 2000, and the President just signed an education appropriations bill that fails, for the fourth year in a row, to increase the maximum Pell Grant award ($4,050). In fact, only 9% of Pell Grant eligible students will receive funds under the current reconciliation bill. President Bush talks about investing to keep this country competitive but continues to reduce federal funding for research. The President’s last budget request included cuts in many critically needed federal research programs within the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Funding for other critical research programs such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other federal civilian research and development programs received only a nominal increase. These irresponsible choices made by the Bush Administration are causing America to lose its edge over the rest of the world in math and science.

Iraq – The President painted a rosy picture of progress in Iraq, but he still refuses to give Americans any idea of when our troops are coming home, or how we will bring about the political solution to the insurgency that our generals tell us we need. John Kerry’s Strategy for Success in Iraq calls for the Administration to provide a proposed timeline for the redeployment of U.S. troops as key security and political benchmarks are met – with a goal of having the majority of our forces withdrawn by the end of 2006 — and sets forth a series of steps necessary to bring about a political solution to the insurgency. He believes the Administration misled the country about Iraq’s WMD program, and has called for the Senate Intelligence Committee to complete its investigation into misuse of pre-war intelligence.

NSA Domestic Spying – The President continues to claim that he did not violate the law by authorizing spying on American citizens without a warrant, and that the program is necessary to keep the country safe. John Kerry believes the President violated the law by authorizing domestic spying without a warrant in clear contravention of the FISA statute. He agrees that we need to listen to Al Qaeda’s phone conversations, but believes that FISA allows this while still preserving the rule of law. John Kerry has called for an independent council investigation to get to the bottom of the domestic spying program, and for the Administration to come to Congress if the FISA law needs to be changed.

War on Terror – The President continues to tout his success in the War on Terror despite the fact that Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri are still at large. John Kerry believes that the Administration made a grave error by failing to get bin Laden and Zawahiri at Tora Bora, then diverted resources from pursuing these terrorists to invade Iraq.

Ethics and Lobbying Reform – President Bush talks about lobbying reform. But published reports show that Bush Administration officials met approximately 200 times with Jack Abramoff, who recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion charges. The Bush Administration has repeatedly refused to provide any substantive information regarding those meetings. John Kerry has written a letter to White House Chief of Staff Andy Card requesting they release a detailed list of all contacts between federal officials and Jack Abramoff since the Bush Administration took office.

Energy Relief – President Bush claims he supports policies that promote reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy to keep our economy growing. However, the Bush Administration fought John Kerry’s provision (which was supported 96-0 on the Senate floor) to provide low-cost loans to small businesses and farmers suffering from those high prices.

Dependence on Oil – President Bush responds to high energy prices by acknowledging we have to reduce our dependence on oil, but he has repeatedly opposed legislative measures to curb our consumption of oil. During his presidency, America’s dependence on foreign oil has increased and there have been dramatic increases in gas prices. While Bush proposed an energy bill with billions in tax breaks and regulatory relief for the gas and oil industries, these same companies recorded historic profits upwards over $100 billion in 2005. John Kerry has repeated warned of the dangers to our environment, economy and security regarding our dependence on oil and proposed a multi-pronged approach to end our dependence on foreign oil in ten years.

Energy Independence and Nation Security—The President has failed in safeguarding one of the most critical aspects of national security: energy independence. We know groups such as Hamas and al Qaeda have received funding from Saudi Arabia, while we know how energy dependence can shortchange national security from the billions of American dollars sent out of the country to many regimes, who don’t share our values. John Kerry has proposed ways of inventing new energy technologies by tapping into America’s strength – our markets, our invention, our innovation and our values—to foster a revolution toward an energy world that benefits our environment, our economy, and most importantly our national security.

Hurricane Disaster Relief – The President says he won’t forget the people of the Gulf. However, after five months, out of almost 320,000 applications from homeowners for help, more than 100,000 have been denied and almost half of the business owners are in limbo, still waiting for their loans even to be processed. John Kerry introduced an amendment to CJS appropriations giving the SBA more tools to help the victims, but the Administration blocked that and other proposals.

Health Savings Accounts – President Bush continues to push tax cuts and health savings accounts as his solution for covering the uninsured. But his prescription is seriously flawed. Health savings accounts ask people to pay more money out of pocket for their care; take higher risks that they won’t get sick. John Kerry believes there is a better way. We should expand coverage and make health care more affordable by giving Americans access to the same highly-rated health plan that Members of Congress give themselves.

Small Business Assistance – President Bush has claimed for five years that he is a champion of small business. Yet President Bush has slashed the Small Business Administration’s budget by 50 percent since coming to office. John Kerry has offered real assistance to America’s small businesses with legislation to increase opportunities for small business Federal contractors, provide relief from confusing and burdensome regulations, and hold large prime contractors accountable for unscrupulous actions towards their small business subcontractors. (S. 137, The Small Business Contractor Safeguard Act)

THE BUSH ECONOMIC RECORD

SINCE PRESIDENT BUSH TOOOK OFFICE IN JANUARY 2001:

Unemployment Up

– 1.4 million more people are unemployed

– Unemployment rate is up 0.7 percentage points to 4.9 percentage points

– Long-term unemployment has doubled to 1.4 million people

Lackluster Job Creation

Job growth has averaged just 34,000 jobs per month, 16,000 per month in the private sector (monthly growth of 125,000 to 150,000 is necessary to absorb a growing labor force)

2.8 million manufacturing jobs have been lost

Falling Wages

Real wages have fallen in the past two years and are up only 2 percent for the 5-year period

– The usual weekly earnings of the typical full-time worker have declined by 0.9 percent after inflation

– Hourly and weekly wages for working families when adjusted for inflation were $46,058 in 2000, and have declined to $44,389 today.

Lower Income, Rising Poverty

– Median household income has declined by $1,669 or 3.6 percent after inflation

– 5.4 million more Americans live in poverty, for a total of 37 million people in poverty

– 1.4 million more children live in poverty, for a total of 13 million children in poverty

Sustained, Record Deficits

– A $128 billion federal budget surplus in FY 2001 turned into a $318 billion deficit in FY 2005

– A $5.6 trillion 10-year projected surplus from 2002 to 2011 has turned into a projected deficit of at least $2.7 trillion

– Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts a deficit of $337 billion for 2006. (This is the third worst deficit in U.S. history and $19 billion worse than last year this prediction does not add in likely policy changes such and AMT fix and an additional Iraq war supplemental.)

Increased Debt

– Republican policies will require another debt limit increase. When this administration took office in 2001, it estimated that no debt limit increase would be required until 2008. In reality, the Republican Congress had enacted three debt ceiling increases  totaling $2.2 trillion. At the end of December 2005, Secretary Snow wrote to Congress to request a fourth increase of $781 billion and this will bring the total increases in the debt limit since 2002 to $3.0 trillion.

– The total debt is approximately $8.2 trillion and each individual’s share of the debt is approximately $27,500.

– Under a budget scenario that makes tax cuts permanent, AMT reform, and ongoing war costs, the debt would increase at a rate of more than $600 billion in every year over the ten year window, and increase by nearly $900 billion in 2016 and would reach a total of $16.1 trillion by 2016.
As of October 2005, U.S. taxpayers owed $682 billion to Japan and $245 billion to China.

Record Trade Deficits

– The U.S. current account deficit, a broad measure of the trade balance, has soared from $389.5 billion in 2001 to $668.1 billion 2004.

Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest

– The average tax cuts in 2005 for those with $1 million or more of income was $103,086 while a middle class family with income between $40,000 and $50,000 received an average tax cut of $874.

– Nearly half of the benefits of tax cuts on capital gains and dividends will go to those earning over $1 million.
– In 2009, the average benefit from reducing taxes on capital gains and dividends for those with more than $1 million in income is $32,111. The average tax cut for families with $50,000 in income or less is $20.

– Total cost of making tax cuts permanent would exceed $2 trillion.

99 percent of households with small-business income do not benefit from a reduction in the top income rate and the repeal of the estate tax.

A SNAPSHOT OF THE ECONOMY

Deficit: For FY 2005, the deficit was $319 billion, the third largest in history. CBO predicts a deficit of $337 billion for 2006 and $1.1 trillion deficit from 2007- 2011.

Debt: Current debt is approximately $8.2 trillion.

Economic Growth: During the fourth quarter of 2005, GDP grew at a rate of 1.1 percent. This was the worst quarter in 3 years. The economy grew at a rate 3.5 percent for all of 2005.

Job Growth: Private sector employment has grown at an average annual rate only 0.7 percent since November 2001, as compared with an average for previous comparable post-World War II period of 2.6 percent. Even the most recent pace of job growth lags behind the typical pace. In the final quarter of 2005, an average of 135,000 private sector jobs was created per month. If the pace of job creation had been the same as the average pace of job creation of all other recoveries since World War II, some 234,000 jobs would have been created per month.

Income Inequality: CBO data shows that between 1979 and 2003, the average after-tax income of the top one percent of the population more than doubled, rising from $305,800 to $701,500 for an increase of 129 percent. By contrast, the average after-tax income of the middle fifth of the population increased by 15 percent, reaching $44,800 in 2003.

Savings Rate: The savings rate for 2005 was minus 0.5 percent. This is the first time since 1933 that savings rate has dipped into negative territory. (The savings rate has been negative for a full year only twice before, in 1932 and 1933 during the Great Depression.) The savings rate for 2004 was 1.8 percent.

12 Responses to “John Kerry Responds to State of the Union Address: Bush “Described a Fantasyland””

  1. Kerry’s response is much better than Tim Kaine’s response. So was Gore’s speech a few weeks ago.

    Doug D.

  2. Doud D

    Kerry and Gore are in a class far above Bush… far above.

  3. John Kerry’s remarks continue to be models of reason and rhetoric in the best sense of the terms. Rather than fleeing from debate or hiding behind empty platitudes, he welcomes an honest discussion of issues on their merits. He is open-minded yet principled. His character is evident in his words, even as written.

    America owes John Kerry a debt of gratitude it will not soon nor can not easily repay.

  4. Kerry as always hits the mark.
    Bush wants energy independence? then why did he ram such a bloated energy bill through congress that gave breaks to exxon instead of the consumer.

    American competiveness? We are behind in stem cell research as Israel, britian, china are alot farther along. Bush won’t even admit there is a global warming crisis and threatens anyone who works for him that disagrees.

    Healthcare> well as long as the drug and insurance companies regulary pump money into the gop you can forget about any true help for the working folks.

    Bipartisanship> No way. Bush and the GOP say this every year then turn around and set a 101 traps for the dems. Let the rethugs prove their serious about biparstianship then push them in the quicksand anyway. The one thing bush and rove have proven time and time again is there is no such thing as bipartisanship in their world and as far as I’m concern as long as they are in DC there should none towards them.

  5. David Kaufmann

    Beautifully said and on the money!

  6. Kerry is right on the money again.

  7. [...] at happy-go-lucky never-worked-a-day-in-my-wannabe-from-Texas presidential reality — now about that oil addiction. The other side is about as unrealistic as well, only the [...]

  8. Constructive criticism here. I love John Kerry and you all know it. He has a great message but he was trying too hard to get in too much this morning on the Today Show. He made some great points–esp. about how the republicans talk about bipartisanship and then they do the opposite–like sending out Karl Rove to dis the Dems on 9/11. Then he said they need to practice what they preach–this was excellent. He needed to pare it down a bit to emphasize the really great points he has.

    Evidently, according to my hubby, the Dem response last night was lacking punch and was all about an eyebrow or something. We need punch.

    I’d love to see Kerry and Gore team up, not as a campaign, but to talk reality to America and to light our fire—some sort of speech tour. It would get a lot of publicity because it is different and would go a long way toward getting Dems into office this election cycle.

  9. Please get the facts strait- only 25% graduate – nope

    85.9 Percent Of Americans Aged 20-24 Are High School Graduates. (U.S. Census Bureau Website, http://www.census.gov , Accessed 2/1/06)

    The media has never really like JK and just because they let the GOP BS the public, does not mean they will not let a chance to attack JK for misspeaking go by.

    He needs to have his facts checked and mooted before he goes on the air. Supplying a footnoted statement should be considered.

    I worked for a women mayor in New York and the local media did not take her claims seriously. Our opponents had an easy time attacking us. So we started footnoting her speeches and press releases. After a short time they started taking her seriously.

    They need to seriuosly consider doing this.

    Gore’s factual misstatements and lack of prep to support what he said hurt his credibility with the media in 2000. When spoke about hybrid cars coming from Japan soon and the need to reduce our dependence oil, the media joined with the republicans to laugh at him.

  10. Finnegen

    Where are getting the 25% figure from, I don’t see that in this statement. He said 53% on the Today show, and honestly he’s cloes. The graduation rate at my kid’s high school is 49%.

  11. OK, I watched while at the gym this AM and I was not very close to the TV and it sounded like 25% to me maybe the noise and the captioning got in the way a bit. But what I herd did not sound right to me. Then again 53% is still off the mark. I sure too many places like your school and other are way below average. And need the investments JK was speaking about. I’m sure/know that’s what he was talking about.

    I also thought Couric was a kinda hard on him. She was right when she pointed out the poll number of just how many think the Dems can’t get there act together. At least JK presented some good ideas on education. That’s a first step. But there is a long way to go before the public things we know what to do if we were in power. Remember, if you don’t know what to do its harder to.

  12. Finnegen

    I think 53% is pretty darn close. Part of the graduation rates depend on demographics, that’s a given, but across the board, across the country our kids are not getting a proper education and NCLB is leaving more children behind than ever.

    Couric was combative at times, she really got nasty but JK was not buying it. I justed a link to the video.