Barbara Lee challenges President Bush's State of the Union


Tue Jan 31, 2006 23:55

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen

Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairwomen Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Santa Rosa, painted an alternative state of the union picture Tuesday as a precursor to President Bush's much-anticipated evening speech.

The 62-member caucus' platform features a range of policies from bringing troops home from Iraq, and instituting congressional ethics reforms, universal health care and anti-poverty programs.

"Our nation faces a crisis and we stand at a crossroads," said Lee on Tuesday morning from Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. "Will we continue to be a nation of laws or a nation where the executive claims the privilege of lawlessness? Will we be a nation run for the benefit of big corporations and wealthy donors or a nation of opportunity, where people who work hard are rewarded and everyone has a shot at the American dream?"

Lee, viewed as one of Congress' most liberal members, was referring to the controversy over Bush's support of spying on Americans that may have ties to terrorists, the often too-cozy relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists and the Democrats' contention that conservative policies hurt the poor and help the rich.

Lee has introduced three bills related to the caucus' focus on eradicating poverty.

"Since President Bush took office, the number of poor people in America has grown by 17 percent, growing at a rate of more than 1 million each year," Lee said, and added that the number of children in extreme poverty grew by 500,000. "This is the real state of the so-called 'ownership society.' "

Lee seeks a presidential action plan for the eradication of poverty, a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the impact on poverty of pending federal legislation and a roll-back of tax cuts that Republicans support.

But she used her strongest words to criticize the president on the Iraq war.

"Tonight, the president will take to the stage to try and put a good face on a year of failures," she said. "One thing you won't hear him talk about, however, is the price of his reckless, unnecessary war in Iraq. You won't see him include the cost for the war in the budget that he submits to Congress next week, either.

"You see, the president doesn't have the courage to level with the American people about just how long his 'stay-the-course' policy will keep up in Iraq and how much it will cost, and ask the American people to sacrifice for it."

Details of the caucus members' proposals are available on-line at the // , a liberal political magazine.

The Times' will feature local reaction to the president's speech from the full East Bay congressional delegation after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Lisa Vorderbrueggen covers politics. Reach her at 925-945-4773 or


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ABC graphic labels Bush address "America's Agenda"


Despite President Bush's approval ratings hovering in the low 40s and a January 29 ABC News/Washington Post poll showing a majority of the American people disapproving of his performance on nearly every major issue, ABC posted onscreen text reading "America's Agenda" beneath an image of Bush while anchor Elizabeth Vargas introduced ABC correspondent George Stephanopoulos's preview of the 2006 State of the Union address on the January 31 edition of World News Tonight.

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