Washington, DC–Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today issued the following statement on President Bush’s press conference on the war in Iraq. A fact check on President Bush is attached.
“I’m glad the President went to Iraq. It’s good for our troops and the new Iraqi government. But in the fourth year of this war the American people are still waiting for the president to lay out a strategy that will stabilize Iraq, redeploy our troops, and refocus on threats that have been largely ignored by this Administration. Last year, the Congress called on the President to make 2006 a year of significant transition in Iraq and yet halfway through this year, the President is simply maintaining the same tired mantra, ‘as Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.’ Yet at the same time more Iraqi security forces are in the field, U.S. force levels have actually increased in recent weeks. This is not a real plan and is not acceptable. The President must take responsibility for laying out a strategy for stabilizing Iraq and bringing our troops home.”
President Bush’s Straw Men
Today, Bush repeatedly set up straw man arguments about what “some” people advocate. In place of empty rhetoric, Americans want to hear the President answer the tough questions about his policies in Iraq and at home.
Bush Sets Up Straw Man: “People” Say Total Elimination of Violence in Iraq is Prerequisite for Success. “Yes, I’d say that if people say, ‘Well, there’s got to be no violence in order for this to be a successful experience,’ then it’s not going to happen. All that does is give the power of, you know, a handful of murderers to determine success.” [Press Conference, 6/14/06]
FACT: May Saw an Average of 90 Insurgent Attacks and 50 Deaths per Day in Iraq. “Iraqi deaths average roughly 50 per day and almost 4,800 Iraqi police and military personnel have been killed in the past three years, according to the Brookings Institution’s compilation of Iraq statistics. There were 90 attacks by insurgents each day on average in May.” [Bloomberg, 6/13/06]
Bush Sets Up Straw Man: “Some in the Country” Don’t Feel a Sense of Urgency about Defeating the Enemy. “But I also understand the stakes of this war, OK. I understand how important it is to defeat the enemy. Now, I recognize some in the country don’t feel that same sense of urgency I do. But Al Qaida’s real.” [Press Conference, 6/14/06]
FACT: Congress Has Called for Accountability and a Plan for Success. The United States Congress–on a bipartisan basis–passed legislation demanding President Bush make 2006 the year of significant transition in Iraq. [Defense Authorization Bill, Fiscal Year 2006]
Bush Sets Up Straw Man: Guantanamo Serves as an “Excuse” for Friends to Criticize the United States. “No question, Guantanamo sends, you know, a signal to some of our friends — provides an excuse, for example, to say, ‘The United States is not upholding the values that they’re trying encourage other countries to adhere to.’ And my answer to them is is that we are a nation of laws and rule of law.” [Press Conference, 6/14/06]
FACT: Bush Himself Has Asserted that He Has the Authority to Ignore Laws Relating to the Military. “President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution. Many of the laws Bush said he can bypass — including the torture ban — involve the military. The Constitution grants Congress the power to create armies, to declare war, to make rules for captured enemies, and ”to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." But, citing his role as commander in chief, Bush says he can ignore any act of Congress that seeks to regulate the military.” [Boston Globe, 4/30/06]
Bush Sets Up Straw Man: Unnamed Democrats Want to Raise Taxes While Bush Has Been Fiscally Responsible. “Our job is to work with Congress to have wise fiscal policy. And wise fiscal policy means not only keeping revenues low, [sic] but it also means being wise about how we spend the people’s money. . . . .[Democrats] will couch it in all kinds of language. But really what they’re saying is, ‘We’re going to raise your taxes.’" [Press Conference, 6/14/06]
FACT: President Bush Turned Record Budget Surpluses into Record Deficits. President Bush inherited a unified budget surplus of $236 billion from President Clinton, the largest surplus in American history. Budget surpluses were expected to continue for another ten years when President Bush took office in January 2001. By 2002, however, the unified federal budget had returned to a deficit of $158 billion and has since reached historic highs. This year, the budget deficit is expected to reach $336 billion. [Office of Management and Budget; Congressional Budget Office, 03/06]
FACT: President Bush is the Most Fiscally Irresponsible President in History. President Bush has presided over the largest explosion of debt in our nation’s history. When President Bush took office, the total national debt was $5.6 trillion. The federal debt has increased 54 percent since President Bush took office, from approximately $5.6 trillion at the end of 2000 to an estimated $8.6 trillion at the end of 2006. By 2011, the President’s budget would increase the public debt to $11.8 trillion. [U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Public Debt]