Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senators Charles Schumer, Edward Kennedy and Amy Klobuchar, and Scott Lilly, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund held a press conference today to discuss the difference between Democrats’ and Republicans’ priorities and Democrats’ efforts to introduce accountability into the war in Iraq.
While Democrats are working tirelessly to invest in our domestic priorities, such as children’s health care, the President has lost sight of what is important – billions of dollars have disappeared in Iraq while the President and Congressional Republicans are blocking CHIP and funding for other priorities. Democrats will hold the Bush Administration accountable for the mismanagement of this war and for neglecting priorities at home.
“President Bush’s fiscal priorities are wildly out of touch with those of the American people,” Reid said. “Yesterday, President Bush vetoed $35 billion over five years for children’s health care, yet he is fine spending that much money to fund three-and-a-half months of an intractable civil war in Iraq. There are billions of unaccounted-for dollars in Iraq that could be used to fund children’s health care, strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and give our veterans the care they deserve. Because of President Bush’s mismanagement of the war, American’s real priorities remain neglected. Democrats will continue to listen to the American people and continue to invest in making their lives better and safer.”
Said Schumer: “Yesterday’s veto clearly shows that the President is out of touch with the American people and their priorities. We have spent over $750 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan – that’s enough money to reform our health care system, fix our crumbling infrastructure, and help us build the best public education system in the world. Unfortunately, the President has once again chosen to ignore America’s top priorities at home in favor continuing to fund a war that is, by all accounts, rife with waste and fraud.”
“With yesterday’s veto, the President stripped away the mask of ‘compassionate conservatism’ and revealed the ugly truth beneath – an Administration so beholden to a rigid ideology that it is willing to sacrifice even the health care of 10 million children to uphold it,” Kennedy said. “At its core, the job of Congress is to make judgments on priorities. The president has made his judgment, and it’s to pour our national treasure into the sands of Iraq and to burden our children with the costs of the war for generations to come.”
Said Klobuchar: “While middle class families are budgeting every last dollar, the President loses nine billion dollars. It simply defies common sense to allow $9 billion in taxpayer money to simply disappear while vetoing a bill to provide our nation’s children access to health care.”
“If our foolish policies in Iraq prevent us from making needed investments here in America, then the war has become a double tragedy,” Lilly said. “It diminishes us not only through wasted lives and treasure overseas, but also deteriorating schools, bridges, scientific achievement and our children’s health here at home.”