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Representative Hastings to President Bush: "We've had enough rhetoric. We want the details!

Location: Washington, DC

Representative Hastings to President Bush: "We've had enough rhetoric. We want the details!

Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) expressed great concern today that America is more divided than ever under the watch of President George W. Bush. Hours before the President's State of the Union address, Representative Hastings challenged the President to provide Americans with a detailed plan on how to get our country on its feet after four years of mass unemployment, an exploding deficit, rising healthcare costs, increasing numbers of failing schools and uncertified teachers, corporate malfeasance, and a culture war that has left America divided more than ever across socio-economic and racial lines.

Representative Hastings stated:

"The America that my constituents live in is not the America in which the President lives. Our country has become a country divided by those who have and those who do not.

"The President's State of the Union needs to focus on helping those most in need. Tonight's message should inform the wealthy that they're going to have to make do with what they've got for a while. But that's going to be a hard message for this President to deliver. It means that he's going to have to tell the corporations and executives who bankrolled his re-election campaign and record-breaking $40 million inauguration spectacle that America's no longer for sale.

"We've had enough rhetoric, Mr. President. We want the details!"

Representative Hastings noted that African Americans have suffered more than anyone during President Bush's first term. He stated:

"Unemployment rates for African Americans are consistently almost double the rates for White Americans. The median weekly earnings of full-time African American workers is consistently over $130 less than white workers who are similarly educated and situated.

"Want more? The poverty rate for African Americans is almost double the national poverty rate (24% vs. 12.5%) and more than triple (33% vs. 9.8%) for children under the age of 18, while home ownership for African Americans is 48% compared to 72% for white Americans. African Americans are also more than two times more likely to be denied a mortgage and more than two times more likely to receive predatory loans.

"Our schools are no better. In 2003, 39% of African American 4th grade students could read at or above a basic reading level compared to 74% of white 4th grade students, and 39% of African American 8th grade students performed at or above a basic math level compared to 79% of white 8th grade students. Only 83.7% of African Americans graduated high school, compared to 91.8% for whites, while 31.7% of all whites went on to receive bachelor degrees compared with only 16.4% of African Americans.

"We've had enough rhetoric, Mr. President. We want the details!"

Representative Hastings also called on the President to provide Congress and the country with his plan to disassemble Social Security. He stated:

"The President has reservations to travel around the U.S. stumping for a risky plan on which he can't provide give any details. If he thinks that Americans are going to let him pull the wool over their eyes then I've got some swampland in South Florida that I want to sell him.

"Social Security benefits are the only source of retirement income for 40% of older African Americans and without these benefits the poverty rate for African American seniors would more than double. Outside of Social Security, 28% of African Americans receive income from assets upon retirement compared to 62% of white Americans and 32% of African American retirees receive income from private pension plans compared to 45% of white American retirees.

"The President can call it anything he wants, but personal accounts means privatization. And privatizing Social Security will place the future of the most successful social program in American history at the mercy of a volatile market. Social Security was never intended to be a money maker. It's a safety net ensuring that the majority of America's seniors do not find themselves living in poverty.

"Social Security isn't a quick fix in the stock market, and it isn't about day-trading. When you run out of money in the market, it's gone, and it's not coming back. A person's entire retirement savings could be lost because of Enron-esque corporate negligence. For my constituents, that's just unacceptable.

"We've had enough rhetoric, Mr. President. We want the details!"

Additionally, Representative Hastings challenged President Bush to discuss how he plans to improve America's image in the world and bring American troops back home. He stated:

"America's reputation has been dragged through the streets under President Bush. We lied to the world when we said that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the world has not forgotten. If we are to regain our reputation as a fair, honest, and sincere world broker, then the President's approach and attitude toward world politics needs a face lift.

"We've had enough rhetoric, Mr. President. We want the details!"

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