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Napolitano Responds to State of the Union

Location: Washington, DC

Napolitano Responds to State of the Union

(Washington D.C.)- Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk) issued the following statements regarding the State of the Union:

Health Savings Accounts: The Bush Administration tried and failed to privatize Social Security after seniors raised their voices. Now, they intend to try the same tactic with health care. The Administration wants to shift the health care system into individual health care savings accounts (HSAs) in a continuing effort to leave more Americans to fend for themselves to pay the greater portion of medical expenses. HSAs benefit the wealthiest and healthiest Americans with even more tax shelters - but leave our hard-working, middle class and poor families with higher medical costs to shoulder and even more women, children and seniors uninsured.

"Health Savings Accounts are brought to the American public by the same people who brought us the costly, confusing, special-interest driven, Medicare prescription drug bill," said Napolitano. "The very flawed Medicare prescription drug plan, written by the same drug industry, has failed to meet the needs of more than 4-million Medicare beneficiaries in California alone- with scores being denied medications they depend on or are being charged too much. More than 20 states have been forced to step in and provide interim coverage for seniors - a testament to its bad planning and poor coverage."

The War in Iraq: President Bush continues to argue that the U.S. is making good progress in Iraq and must "stay the course." Not only is that not a military strategy or policy, but America must have a real and solid strategy that specifies our mission in Iraq. It must detail a phased-out time frame for bringing our soldiers home to their families and to their jobs. Too many have died- 2,200 U.S. servicemen and women. Too many have been wounded - more than 16, 400. Let us include in those plans assistance to these soldiers as they rebuild their lives at home. Let us build our "Homeland Security" at the local level in our communities.

"Our President is still failing to acknowledge that we need a change of direction in Iraq, with no end in sight to the $200 billion spent since the war began, we are shortchanging our needs at home for veterans, seniors and working families," said Napolitano.

Homeland Security: While our President continues to tout the Administration's homeland security efforts- the 9/11 Commission Report Card highlights the many failures of the Republican-controlled Congress and Administration in implementing the Commission's recommendations. After the administration's failed preparedness and response to Hurricane Katrina, FEMA officials have stated that they are less prepared than on 9/11 to deal with major disasters. Unfortunately, Democratic efforts to close serious security gaps in our ports have been killed and/or defeated. Currently, less than 5 percent of foreign containers coming into America's 361 ports are being screened and ports themselves are not much more secure than they were pre-9/11.

Deficit - Our President maintains that our economy has never been stronger and continues to push for tax cuts to be made permanent while the deficit and the national debt continue to balloon out-of-control - a debt that we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. President Bush has turned a projected surplus of $5.6 trillion into a projected deficit of $3.5 trillion since he took office in January 2001.
College - The cost of college is skyrocketing beyond the reach of the average American family. The cost of public higher education has increased by a staggering 46 percent since 2001. We are not helping prepare our own for global competition nor helping minorities achieve a higher education.
Energy - Democrats tried to introduce a plan to curb price gouging by oil companies and repeal billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies for profit-rich oil and gas companies to help Americans who are suffering from soaring prices at the pump and skyrocketing heating bills. Exxon just announced record profits for 2005 -$36.3 billion dollars - $10.8 billion in the last quarter of 2005 alone. Yet, the Republican-led Congress continues to allow the gasoline price gouging and pushes for more drilling in places like ANWR.

"Through hybrid cars, turbine-generated electricity and other sustainable energy alternatives, we can free ourselves from reliance on foreign oil as we strive to reach energy independence in 10 years," said Napolitano. "We should be investing heavily in research and development."

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