Kerry Responds to State of the Union
Wednesday, February 2, 2005
“President Bush said tonight that the state of our union is strong and confident, but millions of Americans know it can and must be stronger. The best way we can instill real confidence in their future is if we follow the true mandate of the last election -- a mandate for unity and true bipartisanship. The political campaigns are over and now we must get down to work. For the 11 million children in this country without health care, we must make our union stronger. For our brave soldiers in Iraq and their families, we must act now in the wake of the Iraqi elections to give them reasons to be as confident about their future as they are courageous under fire.
“The best way to begin genuine bipartisanship to make America stronger is to work together on the real crises facing our country, not to manufacture an artificial crisis to serve a special interest agenda out of touch with the needs of Americans.
“Our country faces a real crisis in health care, a real challenge of record budget deficits, and every American deserves a real plan to improve retirement security -- not weaken it. The problems of health care can be solved if we stop giving tax cuts to those who have the most, and start making health care affordable for those working harder and harder for too little. I was disappointed the President did not spend more time addressing this problem that keeps millions of Americans up at night worrying about their children's future.
“The problems facing Social Security 50 years down the road can be fixed tomorrow if Washington ends the borrow-and-spend policies that are running up a record debt and dumping it on the backs of our children. The challenge of retirement security can be solved if we sit down in the true spirit of bipartisanship and make it possible for young people to save and invest while still guaranteeing that Social Security remains insurance against poverty and disability that can never be wiped away. “Watching Iraqis go to the polls for the first time was an inspiring beginning this week, but we can't stop there. It wouldn't have been possible without the bravery of American troops. I am glad the White House will at long last act to provide a $250,000 benefit for the families of troops who've made the ultimate sacrifice. We must do more for those who give of themselves for God and country. But the greatest tribute to the memory of the fallen is an exit strategy called success. Elections were an important milestone, but to go the distance the President must now bring other countries to the side of the Iraqis to rapidly train a security force capable of providing stability. Even more critical is bringing Iraqis together and making clear to millions of Sunnis who stayed home that they have a stake in a secure nation. “We must succeed in Iraq, but we must also wage and win a more effective War on Terror. We must never take our eye off the ball in the greater struggle against extremism. I was disappointed that the President didn't mention Osama bin Laden's name once tonight. Wherever that terrorist who has murdered Americans is hiding tonight, he should know America will never rest until we've destroyed him and his terrorist network.
“The state of our union -- our faith, our families, our values -- is strong, but we must challenge ourselves and challenge Washington to make the country we love as strong as the freedom that makes it special.”