Rep. Earl Blumenauer on the State of the Union
"In his State of the Union address, the President gave us no hint that he understands Americans' problems - or knows how to solve them."
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
In his State of the Union address last night, the President gave us no hint that he understands Americans' problems - or knows how to solve them. Instead of proposing common sense solutions, he continued to advocate and defend the misguided policies of his administration - from the quagmire in Iraq , to the failed response to hurricane Katrina, to spying on the American public, to his refusal to help those who lack adequate health insurance.
One of the most glaring examples was his call to end our addiction to oil. He never once mentioned "conservation" which is the cheapest, quickest and most effective way to reduce this costly and dangerous addiction.
The area that cried out most for Presidential leadership was fighting the cloud of corruption that hangs over Washington, DC, tainting everything that Congress does. It is unfortunate that there were no strong words from the President of his disgust with these abuses or a commitment to clean them up.
Here are a few of my reactions to the topics the President addressed:
The President's proposed Health Savings Accounts and Associated Health Plans do nothing to help the 46 million uninsured Americans or lower the cost of skyrocketing health care. Designed for political gain from pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare industry, Health Savings Accounts primarily benefit those who already have insurance and do nothing to control costs.
Today, over 600,000 Oregonians are without health insurance. Even those who are fortunate enough to have health insurance are paying more for it every year. Health insurance premiums have increased by 73 percent while wages have increased by only 15 percent. Americans deserve a better solution to this growing crisis.
I'm disappointed that the President still wants to drill, dig, and subsidize our way our of his energy crisis. His proposal to rely on nuclear plants that require federal financing, his pursuit of futuristic hydrogen cell technology while ignoring cars that are already fuel efficient, and his continued advocacy for coal reflect his commitment to failed energy policies of the past.
I am proud to say that many Americans understand what we need to do. The public understands that conservation is the best way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Just closing the loopholes in our current fuel efficiency standards could cut U.S. oil dependence by 1.5 million barrels per day in 2025.
If President Bush is serious about conserving energy and saving American jobs, he should figure out how to help American automakers regain a competitive edge on fuel efficient and hybrid cars. Instead, last night we heard more of the same empty promises and a lack of vision.
Protecting Americans is our number one priority. That means that the President and Congress must have the best intelligence possible to keep Americans safe.
But no one - not even the President - is above the law.
Sadly, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission gave the President and the Republican leadership a failing report: 17 Ds and Fs. Their final conclusion? Republican leaders have failed to implement recommendations that would secure our borders, protect our ports, and provide real-time communication links to first responders.
More than four years after 9/11, the Bush administration and the Republican Congress have failed to ensure Americans' safety.
While the President gives away tax breaks, hard-working, middle-class Americans are being squeezed financially. He has increased our national debt to over $8 trillion, expecting our children to repay his tax cuts. In Congress, Republicans are poised to pass their so-called Budget Reduction Act, which works hand-in-hand with increased tax cuts to add billions more to the national debt.
Although American families with the highest income - 1 percent of the population - received an average tax cut of $34,948 in 2005, middle income families received only an average tax cut of $742. Apparently, the President isn't interested in the plight of those who don't qualify for his tax breaks, nor in those who don't have a job. Today, 1.4 million Americans are currently unemployed, 2.8 million manufacturing jobs have been lost, and job growth continues to be below healthy levels. For most Americans, real wages have fallen in the past two years and the weekly earnings of a typical full-time worker have declined. Today, a total of 37 million Americans live in poverty; 13 million of those are our children.
Sadly, the President's remarks continue to reflect his isolation from the issues that are plaguing Oregonians. Whether it's working to make healthcare more affordable, creating good jobs for all Oregonians or making our tax system fairer, I will continue to bring these issues to the forefront of my work in Congress. As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer
2446 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Telephone: (202) 225-4811
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