Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold On the President's State of the Union Address
The President failed to adequately address many urgent needs facing our nation this evening. Health care for all Americans is the most pressing domestic issue today. It's far past time for the President and Congress to deliver health care to everyone. Unfair trade agreements, passed by both Republicans and Democrats, have sent millions of jobs to other countries. We need to stop this hemorrhaging and find ways for American workers to compete in the new market. The President had the opportunity to detail his solution to these issues but he chose not to do so.
While I welcome the President's new-found interest in reducing the budget deficit, he needs to acknowledge the role his tax proposals played in turning a projected 10-year $5 trillion surplus into $4 trillion of more debt. And he needs to endorse the tough, proven budget rules we had in place during the 1990s that helped actually balance the budget, and I regret I did not hear that tonight.
I share the President's enthusiasm for democracy and his admiration for the Iraqis who courageously came out to vote on Sunday. However, celebrating the Iraqi elections is no substitute for implementing a plan to resolve instability, hand off responsibility for Iraq's security to the Iraqis themselves, and bring American troops home. We need a strategic plan and a concrete timetable with clear goals -- and we did not hear either of those things in the President's remarks.
The President also failed to offer all of the specifics of his plan to privatize Social Security. While Social Security isn't in an immediate crisis, Congress and the President should consider ways to strengthen the program. Unfortunately, news reports of the President's proposal suggest that it would actually weaken Social Security by diverting funding out of the program, and possibly even reducing benefits by nearly half compared to current law when his plan is fully phased in -- all the while adding $2 trillion more to our already massive federal debt.
We need more than lofty rhetoric and vague policies, both at home and abroad, from the President.