Washington, DC–Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement in response to President Bush’s State of the Union Address.
The President’s speech tonight used lofty yet recycled rhetoric to paint a picture of a country that has prospered and become stronger in this new century. Unfortunately, that’s not the America his policies have created for too many families. As Americans, we are hopeful about our future, but the reality is our future is threatened by leadership that puts special interests, not families, first.
A year ago, the President overreached by threatening to privatize and dismantle Social Security. This year, he reached for too little.
America deserved more from President Bush tonight. It just wasn’t credible to hear him talk about making America more secure and honoring our troops or making America energy independent or making health care more affordable without hearing him explain why he’s done just the opposite for the last five years.
While the President is right to talk about the American addiction to oil, Americans wonder why the President enabled that addiction for the last five years by failing to propose real solutions to lower prices and increase our energy independence.
The President is also right to talk about the health care crisis bankrupting our families and threatening our competitiveness, but Americans wonder why – - after he ignored the problem for five years – - he’s now proposing solutions that do nothing to reduce health care costs or make us healthier.
And, Democrats agree with the President that there’s no honor in retreat. But, there’s no honor in sending our troops to battle without the armor, intelligence and planning they need to keep them safe. There’s no honor in using the politics of fear to mute democratic debate after his mismanagement of the war and lack of plan for victory put the nation at greater risk. And, there’s no honor in not providing a strategy to successfully complete the mission.
Finally, there’s no honor in going around the law. The President has the authority to wiretap any calls from al Qaeda or another terrorist organization on an emergency basis, and a bipartisan Congress worked with him to update our laws to ensure that he had the tools necessary to protect the American people. But, contrary to our constitution, the president doesn’t want any check on his power. If the President thinks he needs more authority, he should ask Congress to change the law, not break it. He’s asking the American people to trust him that he’s making America safer without breaking the law. But, after his mismanagement of the war, lawless detentions and secret warrantless wiretaps on U.S. citizens, he has broken that trust.
Governor Kaine said it best tonight – there is a better way. We need to put people ahead of politics, progress ahead of partisanship. We need real solutions to the problems facing the American people, not the same special interest giveaways and divisive policies.
What was most striking tonight was President Bush’s call for ethics reform. There is no more important task in Washington than cleaning up the culture of corruption. Yet the President – whose White House has become the cradle of Republican corruption – is not taking responsibility for the costs of that corruption. Americans were looking for him to lead by example, and that means putting their interests ahead of special interests.
Even if President Bush won’t join us, Democrats will not give up the fight to create a government as good and honest as the American people. We understand that honest leadership is the key to a stronger union. Once we make sure leaders are accountable to voters, not lobbyists, we can finally work together to address the priorities of the American people – real security, a strong economy, energy independence, retirement security and affordable health care.