Hare: In President's Final Year, Status-Quo is Simply Unacceptable
Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today released the following statement in response to President Bush's State of the Union Address:
"As President Bush begins his final year in office, our nation is in desperate need of a change.
"Unfortunately, as America faces significant challengesmany created by the President's own failed policieshe is offering more of the same.
"When it comes to the misguided war in Iraq, the struggling economy, and our broken trade policies, the status-quo is simply unacceptable.
"The 110th Congress has worked in a bipartisan way to take our nation in a new direction. We raised the minimum wage, made historic investments in benefits for veterans, increased funding for renewable energy, and reduced the cost of college.
"There is much more that needs to be done. We must responsibly redeploy our troops from Iraq, expand health care, overhaul No Child Left Behind, and pass a strong farm bill.
"In his final year in office, I hope President Bush will finally listen to the American people and join us in these important efforts."
The following are additional comments from Rep. Hare.
"The stated goal of President Bush's decision to send additional troops into Iraq was to create the breathing room' necessary for Iraq's warring factions to work out their differences. Although the surge' has reduced violence in some neighborhoods, political reconciliation is nowhere in sight. Last year was the deadliest for American troops since the war began. Thousands of brave men and women have died, including 18 soldiers from my district, and tens of thousands have been wounded - many permanently.
It is past time to begin a responsible redeployment of our troops so we can refocus the fight on terrorism and address pressing domestic concerns."
On the Economy:
"The Bush economy has failed working families in every way possible. Worker productivity is up, yet wages are down. The cost of everything from health care to education to gasoline has gone through the roof. Home foreclosures are at an all-time high. Repairing the damage created over the last 7 years will not be easy. The economic stimulus plan that the House will consider tomorrow is not perfect, but it is a good start. I am pleased that Congress and the White House have agreed to give lower and middle-income families much needed tax-relief as well as provide assistance to homeowners. This is a welcome change in direction from the Bush economic agenda of tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. But I hope we will include more for working families as the bill works its way through the process. We must extend unemployment benefits, increase food stamps, and fix the broken Trade Adjustment Assistance program for workers who lose their job through no fault of their own."
"The state of our union is significantly weaker because of the harmful effects of unfair trade. We have lost nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs over the last 7 years, many in my home state of Illinois. The last thing our floundering economy can afford is the passage of more job-killing trade agreements. And at the same time the President calls on Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, he has threatened to veto our bill which does exactly that. When it comes to the needs of displaced American workers, it is time for the President to walk the walk, not just talk the talk."
On the Colombia FTA:
"Despite a slight decrease in the number of murders since trade negotiations began, Colombia remains the most dangerous nation in the world for union organizers. According to Colombian labor rights groups, more than 2,500 trade unionists have been killed over the last 20 years and 38 in 2007 alone, with virtually no convictions. There were also 201 death threats against trade unionists last year. The right to organize and bargain collectively is essential to human freedom. I believe passage of the Colombia FTA would greatly diminish our reputation as a leader in the fight to end human rights abuses worldwide."
On No Child Left Behind:
"All across my district, teachers, school administrators, school board members, and parents are voicing their concerns with No Child Left Behind. They think the law needs significant improvements, and they are right. First, we must fully fund NCLB so schools have the resources they need to succeed. In addition, we must address the challenges faced by rural and high-need schools, improve the way we assess students with disabilities, support teacher mentoring, and encourage schools to adopt positive behavior interventions, among other things.
On Caring for Our Veterans:
"Tonight, the President said we must reform our veterans system to meet the needs of a new war and a new generation.' I could not agree more. Congress should pass my billthe Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Act of 2007which would make VA health care a mandatory spending item within the federal budget, like Social Security and Medicare. We also need to screen our returning veterans for PTSD and TBI and address the unconscionable backlog of nearly 600,000 disability claims."
"House Republicans oversaw an appropriations process that led to the largest increase in earmarks in American history and yet the President failed to veto a single of their spending bills. Since taking office, Democrats have cut funding for earmarks in half and added new transparency to the process. I was proud to put my name next to funding requests for transportation, health care, energy, and other important projects in my district."