Statement Of Congressman Stephen F. Lynch In Response To President Bush’s State Of The Union Address

Jan 31, 2006
Tonight President Bush had the chance to chart a new direction for the country, to reestablish our top priorities and begin anew on the challenges we face.

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He offered strong proposals on expanding our development and use of alternative energy sources, which will be critical to our economic security in the future.

And he continued his support for substance abuse treatment programs which are of utmost importance to the communities of the Ninth District and across the nation.

But on many of the most important issues facing our country, the President refused to offer relief to the Americans who need it most.

President Bush's address provided no hope for the 43 million American seniors who are trapped in an expensive and overly complicated prescription drug plan. The President also overlooked the 260,000 veterans who were turned away by VA hospitals last year and the 46 million Americans who do not have health insurance. Similarly, the President has again forgotten the tens of thousands of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Gulf Coast families still homeless five months after Hurricane Katrina.

President Bush recognizes the problems, but he refuses to take meaningful steps to address them.  As we’ve seen in years past, President Bush’s "solutions” rarely solve the problem, and often exacerbate it. 

When President Bush heard that our VA system was facing a $1.5 billion dollar budget shortfall, he responded by making hundreds of thousands of veterans ineligible to receive health care.

When President Bush heard that our seniors were unable to afford their prescription drugs, he responded by spending $720 billion dollars on a plan that does little to lower drug costs, leaves major gaps in coverage, creates confusion and has forced several states to declare "public health emergencies.”

 

When President Bush heard that we have a growing budget deficit, his response was to make his tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent, costing us more than $2 trillion dollars over the next decade.

When President Bush saw the amount of devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi, he immediately cut the wage rates for workers in those areas thereby encouraging contractors to bring in illegal workers at lower wage rates.

When President Bush heard that health care costs are skyrocketing and 46 million Americans are uninsured, he responded tonight by offering tax credits to those who already have insurance, and health savings accounts only to those who can afford them.

If the President is serious about controlling health care costs, his first step should be to empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies for Medicare beneficiaries.  If the President is committed to covering the uninsured, he should propose expanding Medicaid to include more of America’s vulnerable children and families.

The solution may require heroic leadership that calls the nation to the tradition of shared sacrifice.

This would ring hollow amidst the president's call for another tax cut for millionaires while the hopes of future generations are slowly drowned in Mr. Bush's debt.

President Bush often says that we live in "historic times.”  It’s about time we start thinking about how history will judge our generation.

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