Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement in response to President George Bush’s State of the Union address this evening:

“A couple of things struck me tonight.  First of all, I was surprised and pleased that the president declared rhetorical support for energy independence.  The energy plan he introduced last year would have made America more, not less, dependent on fossil fuels, so I look forward to working with him to meet the challenge of energy independence he laid out tonight.

“But what I found incredibly important was what the president didn’t talk about – the exploding federal debt.  Last year in his State of the Union speech, the president promised that the budget would run a deficit that would be small and short-term, but now we’re hearing from his own administration that the deficit this year will be $300 billion with deficits as far as the eye can see.  That’s not a small deficit, nor is it short-term.

“The 2001 tax cut, coupled with defense increases as a result of both September 11 and Iraq preparations, has quickly led us back into deficit spending and raised the national debt to an unprecedented level.  What's particularly disturbing is that Bush’s tax cuts will explode the federal debt at precisely the same time as our Medicare and Social Security bills become due. 

“Tonight the president promised that we won’t pass along our problems to other Congresses and other generations, but his agenda will clearly pass along the bill.  This speech tonight promises everything to everybody – he says we can increase spending on a variety of domestic programs, create brand-new programs and dramatically cut taxes yet again.  Unfortunately, his math doesn't add up, and I fear this agenda is a recipe for disaster – a return to the enormous deficits of the 1980s, adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years, and still no improvement to an economy that has faltered for two years.

“The president’s rhetoric is right.  Our country desperately needs a plan to get our economy moving again.  Our economy needs a jump-start and we need to get Americans back to work.  We must do something about the exploding cost of health care, and the many Americans who go without health insurance.  We need to secure America from terrorist attacks, and we need to fund our substantial efforts overseas.  But all the rhetoric in the world can’t accomplish that.  We need to take a good hard look at our options and make some tough choices and I haven’t yet seen the president’s commitment to meet that challenge.

“I applaud the president for taking the time to talk honestly about the serious threat of Iraq and Saddam Hussein.  I agree that we cannot permit Saddam Hussein to possess weapons of mass destruction, and that we must ensure he lives up to the U.N. resolution that required him to disarm and subject himself to vigorous and thorough inspections.

“However, I remain unconvinced that the inspections currently underway will never work and that war is needed imminently.  I do not wish to rush to war, and we should do everything we can to avoid it, while at the same time making it clear that the United States will accept nothing less than full disarmament and cooperation with U.N. inspections.  I believe we must give the inspectors more time to do their job and do the hard work necessary to build an international coalition should military action be necessary.”