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.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.