Sadly, this Administration has failed to live up to basic standards of open
and candid debate. On issue after issue, they tell the American people one
and do another. They repeatedly invent "facts" to support their
preconceived agenda - facts which Administration officials knew or should
have known were
not true. This pattern has prevailed since President Bush's earliest days
in office. As a result, this President has now created the largest credibility
gap since Richard Nixon. He has broken the basic bond of trust with the American
By going to war in Iraq on false pretenses and neglecting the real war on
terrorism, President Bush gave al Qaeda two years— two whole years—to
regroup and recover in the border regions of Afghanistan. As the terrorist
bombings in Madrid and other reports now indicate, al Qaeda has used that
time to plant terrorist cells in countries throughout the world, and establish
ties with terrorist groups in many different lands.
The result is a massive and very dangerous crisis in our foreign policy.
We have lost the respect of other nations in the world. Where do we go to
get our respect back? How do we re-establish the working relationships we
need with other countries to win the war on terrorism and advance the ideals
we share? How can we possibly expect President Bush to do that? He's the
problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam, and this country
needs a new President. ...
During the 2000 campaign, America met a Republican candidate for President
who promised to conduct our foreign affairs as a "humble nation," not
an "arrogant nation." He was conservative, but he promised to be
a "compassionate conservative." He promised to overcome the "soft
bigotry of low expectations" in our schools. He promised to meet the
urgent need of senior citizens for prescription drug coverage under Medicare.
He promised to change the tone in Washington. ...
What happened to those promises? In the White House, George Bush has been
arrogant, not humble in foreign affairs; conservative, not compassionate
in domestic policy. As we now know, all the reassuring language of the 2000
election campaign was a Trojan Horse cynically constructed to smuggle the
extreme right wing into the White House. ...
Initially, President Bush acknowledged that the recession began on his watch.
In January 2002, he said, "The economy started to show signs of slowing
down in March of 2001." ...
But in late 2002, the Administration began trying to backdate the Bush recession
to the Clinton years. And for good reason. They want nothing from their past
to cast a shadow on their happy talk about today's economy. Here's what President
Bush said in his State of the Union Address three months ago: "This
economy is strong, and growing stronger. Productivity is high, and jobs are
on the rise." ...
In the same month, the President's Secretary of Labor told CNN that the
stock market was the "final arbiter" of economic growth. The stock
market. Not jobs. Not wages. The stock market. That's not the Secretary of
Commerce talking. It's the Secretary of Labor. ...
The report last Friday that 300,000 new jobs were created last month is
a very positive sign. But let's not forget - the unemployment rate actually
went up, not down, last month—because even more people came back into
the labor force and started to look for work again—and couldn't find
Even the few new jobs come with an asterisk. They pay an average of 8,000
dollars less than the jobs lost in the Bush economy. In 48 of the 50 states,
jobs being created pay 21 percent less than had been paid by industries losing
And today, the President now says he's for job training for our workers
as they seek new and better jobs in today's economy. But what you won't hear
from the President is the fact that his budgets for the past three years
have proposed cuts to job training totaling more than 800 million dollars.
On June 11th of last year, one day after the [Medicare] bill was unveiled
in the Senate, Richard Foster, the chief actuary of the Medicare program
responsible for the Administration's estimate calculated that the bill would
cost 551 billion dollars. He was told by Tom Scully, the head of Medicare,
that he would be fired if he gave that estimate to Congress. He said that
the order not to provide the information to Congress came directly from the
Foster kept revising those politically explosive actuarial estimates as
the bill moved ahead, so that the Administration would always have a current
estimate of the bill's cost and the various compromises being considered
by the House and Senate in reaching the final offering. As he testified,
the costs he came up with were always in the range of 500 to 600 billion
Did the President know that he was deceiving Congress and the country when
he claimed the cost of the bill was 400 billion dollars? The denials from
the White House have been carefully worded. The President claimed he did
not receive a complete budget estimate on the bill until five weeks after
he signed it into law. On January 30, the White House press secretary said
Mr. Bush had been informed of the final cost estimates "just in the
last two weeks."
But the issue is not complete or final cost estimates. The final estimates
were not even finished by Foster before the bill was passed. But a series
of estimates going all the way back to the beginning of the debate and clearly
showing that the bill would cost far more than 400 billion dollars were available
and known at the highest levels of the Administration throughout the process.
Did the President never, in all those months, ask his aides what his bill
would cost? Was he never told what his Administration's own cost estimate
[Re: the “No Child Left Behind Act”] Over the course of several months
of hearings, markups, debates, and negotiations, we agreed on a series of
all students, well-trained teachers, smaller class sizes, supplemental services
after school, periodic tests to see that all students are making progress,
and accountability for results. After long and hard negotiations, we also
agreed on the specific level of resources necessary to carry out those reforms.
The country has seen that promise flagrantly broken. In 2002, less than
a month after signing the bill into law with great fanfare, President Bush
quietly proposed to cut funds for the No Child Left Behind Act by 90 million
His next education budget, in 2003, cut funding for the reforms
by far more - 1.2 billion dollars. Believing his political ticket already
had been adequately punched on education, President Bush tried to drop
half a million children from after-school programs. ...
...We see this same kind of misleading deception in higher education, too.
Listen to the President's words during the 2000 campaign, "Pell Grant
aid significantly affects the ability of a child to attend college or stay
in college. . . . I am going to ask Congress to bolster first year aid .
. . to 5,100 dollars per recipient of the Pell Grant."
There are 1.3
million first year Pell Grant recipients. This year, for the third year
in a row, President Bush underfunds that promise by a thousand dollars per
But it's an election year, so he's proposed a special thousand dollar Enhanced
Pell Grant. But there's a catch - there's only enough for 33,000 students.
President Bush is leaving behind all but 33,000 of those 1.3 million college
The NEA represents 2.3 million hard-working teachers who have one of the
most difficult and important jobs in America. But when the NEA disagreed
with the Bush Administration over the No Child Left Behind Act, the Secretary
of Education called it a "terrorist organization." Terrorists.
And this after President Bush said in February 2001 in Omaha, Nebraska, "We
always have to praise the teachers." ...
At 11 A.M. yesterday, Ted Kennedy addressed the Brookings Leadership Forum
with “A Critique of Administration Policy on Health Care, Education,
and the Economy.” His
comparison of Bush to Nixon generated news buzz. In typical fashion, the coverage
concentrated on the sizzle, instead of the steak. You should read the complete
transcript for the full measure of what was said.