News

    Democrats Respond to Bush State of Union Speech

    Multimedia

    Audio

    In their response to his State of the Union address, Democrats have vowed to hold President Bush accountable on Iraq and domestic issues.

    The traditional response was delivered by the Democratic Minority leaders in the House and Senate, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid.

    In the days before the President's speech, both had voiced the key positions Democrats have adopted toward the Bush second term agenda.

    But in their response to the President, the Democratic leaders hammered away at the main point they have been making about Iraq. "Now we must consider our future in Iraq," said Mrs. Pelosi. "We all know the United States cannot stay in Iraq indefinitely and continue to be viewed as an occupying force. Neither should we slip out the back door, falsely declaring victory but leaving chaos. Despite the best efforts of our troops and their Iraqi counterparts, Iraq still faces a violent and persistent insurgency, and the chairman of the national intelligence council said in January that Iraq has become a magnet for international terrorists. We have never heard a clear plan from this Administration for ending our presence in Iraq."

    In his speech, the President went some way toward addressing lawmaker's concerns that he has not done enough to persuade European allies and others to help in Iraq. That's not likely to be enough for members of Congress who want to see proof progress is being made.

    The Democratic response also focused on the most important domestic aspect of President Bush's speech, reforming the U.S. pension system known as social security.

    Before the State of the Union address, Democrats accused the President of using scare tactics to persuade Americans to support his plan to partially privatize social security with new private investment accounts.

    Senator Reid addressed this in his part of the Democratic response, calling the President's plan dangerous: "There is a lot we can do to improve American's retirement security, but it is wrong to replace the guaranteed benefit that Americans have earned, with a guaranteed benefit cut of 40 percent or more. Make no mistake, that is exactly what President Bush is proposing" he said.

    In his speech, President Bush said U.S. forces will increasingly focus on efforts to prepare Iraq's security forces to defend the country, but refused to discuss a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. He went some way toward addressing lawmaker's concerns he has not done enough to persuade European allies and others to help in Iraq, saying he would seek to build coalitions.

    That's not likely to be enough for members of Congress who want to see proof progress is being made.

    In his speech, President Bush said his proposed changes to social security would not result in any changes for Americans who are 55 years of age or older, adding that he would work with Congress to find, what he called, the most effective combination of reforms.

    Democrats also fault the President on the question of strengthening U.S. defenses against another terrorist attack such as that on September 11, 2001.

    House Democratic leader Pelosi said gaps in security, revealed in detail by the report of the independent September 11th commission that investigated intelligence failures, have not been eliminated: "We can and we must keep the world's most gruesome weapons out of the world's most dangerous hands. Nothing is more important to our national security, and indeed to the safety of the world," he said. "For three years, the President has failed to put together a comprehensive plan to protect America from terrorism and we did not hear one tonight."

    The White House has repeatedly dismissed the Democratic complaint, which also coincided with Senate hearings on the confirmation of the President's nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security.

    In their response, Democrats were again signaling they have no intention of buckling (collapsing) in the face of a Bush agenda Republicans hope to move quickly through Congress.

    Senate Democratic Minority leader Reid put it this way in Wednesday's response to the President: "When we believe the president is on the right track, we wont let partisan interests get in the way of what is good for our country. We will be first in line to work with him, but when he gets off track, we will be there to hold him accountable," he said.

    After the State of the Union is traditionally the time Congress really starts its legislative work, and Social Security is at the top of the Republican agenda, followed by a range of other bills on everything from transportation and energy to tax reform, immigration and education.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora