Bush Owes America Answers, Says Mikulski - Southern Maryland Headline News

Bush Owes America Answers, Says Mikulski


"The American people did not speak in code on Election Day - they have been clear in what they want." --Sen. Barbara Mikulski

WASHINGTON - In a radio address yesterday, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) laid out her expectations for President Bush's upcoming State of the Union address. Senator Mikulski called on the President to use his speech to "answer the questions the American public has been waiting -and deserves - to know."

Senator Mikulski has advised that she will not be issuing a post-address commentary. Newly elected Virginia Senator Jim Webb will provide the Democratic Party's response to the address.

"Is the President ready to change the agenda, change the tone, and change the direction to actually get things done?" asked Senator Mikulski. "The Congress is putting its best ideas forward, let's now hear from the President."

A transcript of Senator Mikulski's address is provided below:

"President Bush will deliver his sixth State of the Union address on Tuesday. The American people did not speak in code on Election Day -they have been clear in what they want. They want a change in tone, they want a change in direction in Iraq, and they want to change the national priorities focused on helping families. The President should use this opportunity to answer some important questions that the people deserve to hear.

"They want to hear - and so do I - three things from the State of the Union: One, how is the President going to work with Congress to change the tone? We are ready to work with him. We sure hope he is ready to work with us. Two, how is the President going to bring our troops home swiftly and safely? Three, how and when is the President going to return to our domestic priorities - like fixing part D on Medicare and access to higher education?

"On Iraq, the President's speech earlier this month did not give us real answers. This is an escalation. The people want answers - so do our troops, so do their families and so do I. One, is this new Bush escalation sustainable and achievable, and how will it get our troops home? Two, what is the Iraqi government actually going to do to help itself - where is the political solution, and where is the oil money? Three, what is going to happen to be able to disarm the militias and the insurgencies? Is it going to be our troops in the middle of a civil war? I certainly hope not. Or is it going to be the Iraqi government, and then when are they going to get started doing it? And how are we going to pay for it?

"A strong American military cannot be a substitute for a weak Iraqi government. The stronger we are, the more permission we give the Iraq government to be weak. The Iraqi government must come up with its own plan, and Bush must lead a diplomatic initiative, not a new troop initiative.

"We need to get back to taking care of American families - that means access to health care at any age. The President needs to work with Congress to clean up the Medicare prescription drug mess and admit it was a mistake. It's one more give away to the drug companies. We must make sure that health care is affordable. We need to reduce those drug prices by mandating the government to negotiate for cheaper drug prices with the drug companies. Let's simplify that program. And let's take our savings and use it to close the coverage gap.

"We need to help families also with the crushing cost of higher education. Families and young people need to have the freedom to achieve, the ability to follow their dreams - that means access to higher education. We hope the President proposes an increase in student grants. Congress has a plan. Let's hear the President's.

"Congress is ready to provide leadership - the Democratically controlled House and Senate have already completed ethics reform. We're working to raise the minimum wage and to really have breakthroughs on stem cell research. Is the President ready to change the agenda, change the tone, and change the direction to actually get things done? The Congress is putting its best ideas forward, let's now hear from the President."

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