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Democratic Leaders Respond To State Of Union

NOTE: Democratic Party releases in response to George Bush's State Of The Union address from two Democratic Party Presidential contenders, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry. Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have not yet responded to the address. Also responding here are Senator Edward Kennedy, Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi and former congressional leader Dick Gephardt.

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For Release:
January 28, 2003

Lieberman Says “Unsteady” State of the Union
Demands Stronger Economic, Security Leadership
Proposes pro-growth stimulus alternative to Bush slow-growth approach
WASHINGTON - Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) issued the following statement in anticipation of the President's State of the Union Address:

Nearly a year and a half after 9/11, the state of our union continues to be unsteady. Our security is threatened by tyrants and terrorists from abroad. And the American Dream has been jeopardized by a stagnant, stumbling economy here at home. I am confident we can meet these serious challenges – with the right kind of leadership.

President Bush at first showed strong leadership in guiding the war against terrorism. But over the past year, our government's homeland security efforts have been too cautious, its instincts too reactive, its vision too blurry. With porous ports, intelligence agencies fundamentally unchanged, and local first responders in dire need of resources and information, now is the time for big and urgent action to protect America from terrorism. And now is the time to put real resources behind our promises – something this President is sadly failing to do so far.

President Bush has consistently and wisely confronted Saddam Hussein's ongoing defiance of the world community, and I will stand with him at this critical moment to reduce the threat the Iraqi regime poses to the safety and stability of the world.

The case for action needs to be made not just the American people but to many of our allies, who remain skeptical of our efforts. Their caution is unwarranted, in my view, in light of the compelling evidence of Iraq's threat to the security of its neighbors and the world. But the Administration undermines our international standing when it resorts to unilateralist, often arrogant treatment of our friends. In the world today, we grow stronger, not weaker, when we stand with the international community to advance our common values. If we show strong leadership and a commitment to working with our allies, we will improve our standing in the world and our chances of success in the mission to disarm Iraq and defeat terrorism.

On the economy, the President has offered no leadership – just a one-note strategy of tax cuts we can't afford and that haven't worked to create jobs or growth. The President has put forward no constructive new ideas – just a confrontational, outdated ideology. His approach is unfair, unaffordable, and totally ineffective. During this President's term, business investment has been weaker than it has been in half a century. More than 2 million jobs have been lost, and more than a million people have fallen below the poverty line. The median income has actually dropped for the first time in a decade. It's getting harder for the middle class to save for retirement, afford college, pay for health care and put up the down payment on a house. And just two years after running a record surplus, we're projecting deficits of more than $300 billion.

Right now we need a strategically-targeted, fiscally-responsible stimulus plan that will give our economy an immediate shot in the arm. Instead, the President once again is proposing a plan that is the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the foot. The only thing his budget-busting package of tax cuts will grow is the national debt. I hope Congress will scrap this slow-growth approach and develop a pro-growth proposal, along the lines of the stimulus plan I offered in October.

My $150 billion package of tax cuts is tailored to revive business investment, reignite job growth, restore investor confidence, and rekindle consumer spending – all while keeping the budget in balance. It would give businesses an immediate tax credit to invest in new information technology; rev up the burgeoning biotechnology and nanotechnology industries to produce high-paying high-tech jobs; send a new cash tax rebate to the 34 million taxpayers who didn't get one in 2001; put in place a specially designed zero capital gains rate for investments in new and expanding businesses; and implement a New Jobs Tax Credit to encourage immediate hiring. Also, unlike the President's plan, almost all of it would be allocated this year, when the economy needs it most.

After two years of disappointing and disappearing leadership from the Bush Administration, there are other uncertainties in the state of our union today. Our air, water, and land are being threatened by this Administration's do-nothing global warming plan and its preference for protecting special interests over protecting the environment and public health. The promise of a quality education for every child is being hampered by the Administration's broken promise to fund the high standards of the No Child Left Behind Act. And our citizens' health remains tenuous, as this Administration keeps launching partisan political salvos instead of seeking constructive solutions to extend quality care to more Americans.

I remain optimistic, though, that we can meet these challenges and build the richer, safer, and better America we all want. And that is because American values are stronger, our people are more resilient, our businesses are better, and our soldiers are braver than any others on earth. It is our responsibility now to avoid wasting that greatness, to harness our country's limitless spirit, and to find common ground and common-sense solutions to the problems we face.


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Senator Kerry Response to the State of the Union

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

"We live in serious times facing serious challenges, and we can not afford a mere rhetorical presidency. Americans are tired of politicians who make promises in speeches and break them in practice. Too often President Bush offers slogans not solutions, and too often his solutions would take America backwards.

Tonight, President Bush talked about fixing the economy, but clings to failed economic policies that make special interests happy while nearly two million Americans have lost their jobs. He talked about energy independence, but his energy plan would make America more dependent on foreign oil twenty years from now than we are today. He talked about health care, but would break the promise of Medicare and force seniors into HMO's that run roughshod over patients. He talked about keeping Americans safe, but has too often practiced a blustering unilateralism that is wrong, and even dangerous, for our country. He talked about holding Saddam Hussein accountable, but has too often ignored opportunities to unify the world against this brutal dictator. He talked about homeland security and corporate reform even though his Administration was dragged kicking and screaming into accepting either. He talked about fighting AIDS in Africa but pulled the rug out from under Bill Frist and me last fall when he had the chance to make America the world's leader in fighting that pandemic.'

We can do better than this President is offering. It's time we had a better choice that seeks to make America safer and stronger in actions, not just words. It's time we had an economic plan that puts Americans back to work, creates fairness in the tax code, and puts money in the pockets of workers who pay their taxes through the payroll tax. It's time we had a health care plan that delivered choice, quality, affordability, and access for every American. It's time we had an energy plan that delivered real energy independence while making our air cleaner. It's time we had a progressive internationalism in our foreign policy, backed by undoubted military might, that commits America and its allies to lead the world toward liberty and prosperity. "

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1/28/03

Reaction of Senator Edward M. Kennedy
to President Bush's State of the Union Address


I'm concerned that what we heard tonight was not only a go-it-alone foreign policy, but a you're-on-your-own policy at home. The President had an opportunity tonight to change the direction of this nation, and he failed. He identified the right challenges, but I didn't hear anything approaching the right solutions for America.
President Bush cannot expect the international community to salute America and march with us into war when the Administration has made no convincing case for war. Basically, the President is saying "Trust me." Ronald Reagan had a three-word response to ultimatums like that - "Trust but verify." The American people and other nations are right to ask us to verify that there is compelling evidence for war.

The UN is taking the right steps to disarm Saddam Hussein, so the American people wanted the President to reassure them that war is still the last resort. He did not make a persuasive case that the threat is imminent and that war is the only alternative.

Instead of rushing down the path to war with Iraq, the American people deserve a full debate. Putting American lives at risk is the most solemn responsibility of our government. That's why I intend to introduce a resolution to require the President to come back to Congress and present convincing evidence of an imminent threat before we send troops to war with Iraq.

Much has changed in the many months since Congress last debated war with Iraq. UN inspectors are on the ground and making progress, and their work should continue. Osama bin Ladin and the Korean nuclear crisis continue to pose far greater threats to Americans, and deserve our more immediate attention.

To ensure that we are protecting the American people at home and abroad, another vote is necessary if the time has come for war.

On the home front, more tax breaks for the wealthy won't help average Americans pay their bills, get better jobs, or afford health insurance. We need an economic stimulus plan that does not divide the nation by riches and helps all Americans.

Forcing senior citizens into HMOs as the price of getting a prescription drug benefit is the wrong medicine for America's senior citizens. The President must be the only person in America who thinks that HMOs are part of the solution, and not the problem. Senior citizens shouldn't be forced to give up the doctor they trust to get the prescription drugs they need. The President was wrong when he proposed to privatize Social Security, and now he's wrong to privatize Medicare, too.

Today, we have 42 million Americans living without health insurance. The President's proposals to expand insurance coverage and control costs are a drop in the bucket - and at most would do more harm than good. His proposals to help small businesses would actually raise premiums and deny coverage to workers in poor health. The President's response to the cost problem is to deny the most seriously injured patients the right to fair compensation, even though malpractice premiums represent less than one percent of overall health care costs. The Administration wants to give more subsidies to insurance companies while doing little or nothing for patients.

The President also had an opportunity to assure the American people that his recent statements about civil rights are more than just empty rhetoric. Instead, he said nothing and his inactions speak volumes about his commitment to diversity and equal opportunity. The American people will have to evaluate President Bush by his hostility to the University of Michigan's affirmative action programs. When he had an opportunity to stand up for diversity, he chose divisive rhetoric. Affirmative access is a poor substitute for constitutional affirmative action programs like those at the University of Michigan.

The American people will also have to judge President Bush by the nominees he sends to the Senate for confirmation. Too many are conservative extremists who have spent decades undermining our country's civil rights laws. Miguel Estrada raises serious concerns for those who want a fair and balanced judiciary, including many Latinos and many Latino civil rights organizations

And on education, instead of strengthening our schools, the President has cut funding for the bipartisan reforms he signed into law only last year. His budget leaves over six million school children behind, cuts funding for training quality teachers, and fails to help schools end overcrowded classrooms. And he ignores the pleas from America's students for help with rising college costs. These are the priorities of America's parents and students and teachers, and their voices were not heard tonight.

Tonight, the President had an opportunity not only to say the right things, but to do the right things by taking real action to help all Americans meet these pressing priorities.

Instead, he offers solutions that help the wealthy and big business, but leave the rest of America behind. The American people will reject these nonsolutions - and so will the Congress.

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Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi Statement on State of the Union Address

January 28, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement tonight following the President’s State of the Union Address:

"President Bush’s words tonight were polished and his tone resolute. But that is precisely the problem. His rhetoric bears little resemblance to the harsh reality of his real agenda. That agenda will be reflected in the federal budget that he submits next week, which must outline our national priorities and values.

"Americans tuned in tonight in the hope of getting straight answers to their most urgent questions -- what is the justification for putting American lives at risk in Iraq now? What are the next steps in the war against terrorism? How can we jump start the economy and make the American Dream real for all our people?

"President Bush used strong words, demonstrating once again that Saddam Hussein is a menace, and made a convincing case for disarming Iraq. But he did not make a convincing case that the use of force now is the only way to disarm Iraq, or that removing Saddam from power would guarantee that a new regime would not pursue the same policies. The clear and present danger that our country faces is terrorism, and the President did not explain how a war with Iraq would not compromise our efforts against terrorists.

"Americans also wanted to hear real solutions to our pressing domestic challenges and a real strategy to make our economy stronger. Instead, the President continued to promote his misguided economic plan of massive tax cuts for the wealthy, which will not create jobs.

"As Democrats, our priorities are the safety and soundness of the American people. We must keep our homeland safe, and our economy sound. We have a plan to stimulate the economy now, and we will fight to invest in education, to provide access to quality health care for all Americans, and to protect our cherished environment.

"The true verdict on the State of the Union comes not from the President’s words tonight, but from the American people in the days and weeks ahead. It is the state of their families, their homes and their communities that will decide what the State of our Union is."



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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Contact Name: Richard A. Gephardt

Address: 1236 Longworth HOB


Gephardt Response to the State of the Union

News From Congressman Dick Gephardt 3rd District, Missouri Washington – “As we face the prospect of war and confront an economy in steep decline, the state of our union is uncertain. Tonight, the president failed to ease the nation's anxiety over his economic plan and fell short of addressing the nation's increasing concern about the future.

“It is clear that tax cuts continue to be the president's all-purpose solution to our precarious economic situation. I believe there is a time and place for tax cuts directed to those who need them. Unfortunately, tax cuts targeted to those who need it the least at a time of such profound uncertainty are shortsighted and misguided.

“Now is the time to discuss improving access to quality health care for all, strengthening our homeland security efforts, providing our children with the best possible education, reducing our dependence on foreign oil by developing environmentally smart energy solutions, strengthening our homeland security efforts and protecting our pensions and retirement savings.

“President Bush's rhetoric on these and other most critical issues is undermined by his single-minded push for more tax cuts.

“Regarding Iraq, I share the President’s view that Saddam Hussein poses a serious threat to U.S. security interests. We must do everything in our power to confront Iraq and other rogue states that might share weapons of mass destruction or their components with our enemies, in whatever form they take. In the weeks ahead, I hope the president will continue to focus on building coalitions both at home and abroad.

“No one wants to go to war. However, we must secure the removal of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction diplomatically if we can, militarily if we must.”


ENDS

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