Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement in response to President George Bush's State of the Union address this evening:
"Tonight, the President failed to outline a bold, positive agenda for our nation. Instead, the speech was much of the same old rhetoric that has been the hallmark of his past State of the Union addresses.
As gas prices are again on the rise, the President needs to focus on alternative fuels instead of towards greater dependence on polluting imported fossil fuels. Since Bush took office in 2000, the amount of foreign oil consumed in the United States has gone up to sixty-six percent from fifty-eight percent. Americans now spend $200,000 a minute on foreign oil and more than $25 billion annually goes to Persian Gulf states for oil imports. The Bush Administration's Energy Bill, passed last year, preserves the status quo and contains billions in subsidies for fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas; subsidies that do not make sense if we are serious about switching to alternative energy sources and lessening our dependence on foreign oil. As a nation, we must be prepared to invest in forward-thinking and emerging technologies, renewable energy, and energy efficiency and conservation.
In tonight's speech, Bush failed to address one of the critical problems are nation faces: an irresponsible and out-of-control fiscal policy. Bush insists on making his tax cuts permanent, yet these cuts are targeted to help the wealthiest in our country, they do almost nothing to benefit the average American, and they worsen the nation's poor fiscal health. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the cost of making the tax cuts permanent is $3.4 trillion through fiscal year 2015. At a time when we have annual budget deficits approaching $500 billion and a national debt that exceeds $8 trillion, we cannot afford these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. He also showed no plan for reining in government spending and he appears content to simply continue his fiscally irresponsible policies.
President Bush also failed to provide America tonight with a vision to adequately address the growing health care crisis that faces the nation. Health care inflation is rising at a rate of approximately 15 percent a year, and yet he gave us no plan for controlling health care costs. In order to ensure the competitiveness of our businesses and the vibrancy of our economy, we must control the cost of health care.
He discussed relatively minor policy changes that will have a limited impact on what is clearly a large-scale problem. In doing so, he's demonstrated that he has neither the will nor the creativity to deal with the central and urgent challenges faced by million of American families. We need to do better and the Bush Administration needs to lay out a health policy that controls costs and also helps all Americans get the health insurance that they deserve.
Tonight's speech discussed energy independence, our economy and our health care system, yet the proposals that the President discussed tonight do not address the fundamental issues that Americans face. In the State of the Union, Bush had the opportunity to layout a serious and thoughtful vision for the future: a future for Americans that includes investments in the latest technologies to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, a future that includes a significantly reduced national debt and a health care system that doesn't leave 45 million Americans uninsured. President Bush did not do this. Rather, he laid out policies that maintain the status quo regarding our dependence on foreign oil, no plan to curb our spending and no effective plan to help the millions of uninsured Americans. We need real solutions to these important and difficult problems and the President failed to provide the American people with policies that will address these issues."