Remarks by leaders in Democratic Party

President's domestic agenda, foreign policy are questioned

Excerpts

State Of The Union

February 03, 2005

Excerpts of a response to the State of the Union address from House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada

Senator Reid: I believe we can make sure America lives up to its legacy as a land of opportunity if the president is willing to join hands and build from the center. It's important that we succeed. It's time that America's government lived by the same values as America's families. It's time we invested in America's future and made sure our people have the skills to compete and thrive in a 21st-century economy. That's what Democrats believe. That's where we stand. That's what we'll fight for.

Too many of the president's economic policies have left Americans and American companies struggling. And after we worked so hard to eliminate the deficit, his policies have added trillions to the debt - in effect, a `birth tax' of $36,000 on every child that is born.

We Democrats have a different vision: Spurring research and development in new technologies to help create the jobs of the future. Rolling up our sleeves and fighting for today's jobs by ending the special tax breaks that encourage big corporations to ship jobs overseas. A trade policy that enforces the rules of the road so that we play to win in the global marketplace instead of sitting by and getting played for fools.

This 21st-century economy holds great promise for our people. But unless we give all Americans the skills they need to succeed, countries like India and China will take good-paying jobs that should be ours. From early childhood education to better elementary and high schools to making college more affordable to training workers so they can get better jobs, Democrats believe every American should have a world-class education and the skills they need in a worldwide economy.

Health care costs have shot up double digits year after year of the Bush administration and that's costing us jobs, costing us our competitiveness, and costing families their peace of mind. We need to make health care and prescription drugs affordable for all. There's a lot we can do to improve [Social Security], but it's wrong to replace the guaranteed benefit that Americans have earned with a guaranteed benefit cut of 40 percent or more. Make no mistake, that's exactly what President Bush is proposing. The Bush plan would take our already record-high $4.3 trillion national debt and put us another $2 trillion in the red. That's an immoral burden to place on the backs of the next generation.

Representative Pelosi: Iraq's election on Sunday was a significant step toward Iraqis taking their future into their own hands. Now we must consider our future in Iraq. We all know that the United States cannot stay in Iraq indefinitely and continue to be viewed as an occupying force. Neither should we slip out the back door, falsely declaring victory but leaving chaos.

Despite the best efforts of our troops and their Iraqi counterparts, Iraq still faces a violent and persistent insurgency, and the chairman of the National Intelligence Council said in January that Iraq is now a magnet for international terrorists. We have never heard a clear plan from this administration for ending our presence in Iraq. And we did not hear one tonight.

We must embrace a renewed commitment to our security here at home. Despite the administration's rhetoric, airline cargo still goes uninspected, shipping containers go unscreened, and our railroads and power plants are not secure. Police officers and firefighters across America have pleaded for the tools they need to prevent or respond to an attack, but the administration still hasn't delivered. The greatest threats to our homeland security are the tons of biological, chemical, and even nuclear materials that are unaccounted for or unguarded. The president says the right words about the threat, but he has failed to take action commensurate with it.

As we strive to close the gaps in our security here at home, we must do more than show our strength as a nation, we must also show our greatness. We must extend the hand of friendship to our neighbors in Latin America. We must work to stop the genocide in Sudan. We must reinvigorate the Middle East peace process. And we must bring health and hope to people suffering from disease, devastation, and the fury of despair.

And as we protect and defend the American people, we must also protect and defend our Constitution and the civil liberties contained therein. That is our oath of office. A strong and secure America was our parents' gift to us. We owe our children and our grandchildren nothing less.

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