President Bush tried tonight to convince Americans that tax cuts for the wealthy, massive budget deficits and a misguided plan to fight terrorism make our nation stronger. But the facts speak clearly: two and one half million jobs lost, exploding health care costs, and a weaker America abroad. Our Union is strong – but that is because of the actions of ordinary Americans, not the president's prescriptions laid out tonight.
2.5 million jobs gone, no help from the president. The president's talk about "Jobs for the 21st Century" can't hide his proposals to slash nearly $1 billion from job training programs in the last three years and his rhetoric will offer little solace to jobless and underemployed Americans.
4 million more people without health insurance, costs rising out of sight. The president's health care proposals outlined tonight do little to meet his stated goals of "keeping costs under control, expanding access, and helping more Americans afford coverage." Band-aids like Association Health Plans and Health Savings Accounts would enrich HMO's and insurance companies without significantly expanding coverage. And he boasted about his new drug plan that would hurt many of those seniors who need the most help.
Permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest at a time of exploding deficits. Incredibly, the president tonight pledged to send Congress a budget "that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs…[while] cutting the deficit in half over the next five years," – an untenable and misleading proposition that ignores the consequences of his tax cuts and the burdens he will place on future generations. If the Bush deficit continues on its current course, the average family's share of national debt will be an astronomical $84,000 – compared to $500 when he took office.
A misdirected, unfocused and politicized fight against terrorism. President Bush referred tonight to "some people" who believe "it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers," – a clear political straw man designed to deflect attention from the administration’s complete lack of comprehensive planning in the fight against terrorism. The State of the Union offered no hope that he will fund proven efforts to stop terrorists and lock down nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and materials or develop an integrated plan to protect our borders and ports, improve intelligence, and provide communities with the support they need to defend their residents.
American blood and treasure in Iraq. President Bush tonight continued to deny responsibility for systematically manipulating intelligence to help sell the war in Iraq. Talking about "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities," the president disregarded mounting evidence that there was no imminent threat from Iraq that could justify a unilateral, preemptive war, while failing to mention that the taxpayers will get another $50 billion bill for Iraq – after the election.
John Podesta is the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.