"President Bush's address tonight was heavy on rhetoric, but light on everything else. The American people said they wanted change and what they got was more of the same - small ideas that won't make a difference in the lives of working Americans.
They said they wanted straight talk and a vision for the future, what they got was a rationalization for the failed policies of the past.
The next President will have to do more than just undo this President's mistakes – the next President must offer a vision for fundamental change that will transform America and ensure our greatness in the 21st century.
America needs leaders who will do more than propose half-measures and baby steps; President Bush has left us a legacy of challenges that can only be met with courage, conviction and bold change.
And that change must begin in Iraq. President Bush's decision to adopt the McCain Doctrine and escalate the war in Iraq is terribly wrong. There is no military solution to this civil war. Instead of increasing the number of troops in Iraq, we should immediately withdraw 40-50,000 troops. In order for the Iraqi people to take responsibility for their country, we must show them that we are serious about leaving, and the best way to do that is to actually start leaving. Since the President refuses to change course, Congress must use its power of the purse and block funding for an escalation of war. Over 80,000 people from across the country have joined me in calling on Congress to stop President Bush's misguided plan to escalate the war. Congress has the power to stop this escalation - they should use it.
We also need real leadership to address the health care crisis in our country. Since President Bush took office in 2000, the number of uninsured Americans has increased by 8 million. While it is nice that he is finally talking about America's health care crisis, President Bush's proposal will do little to help working Americans, and is it unlikely to reduce the number of uninsured because it encourages companies to drop coverage, but does nothing to help people buy their own insurance. President Bush's proposal offers much more help to a family making $300,000 than one making $30,000. The time for patching up our health care system has ended. We need universal health care in this country and we need it now.
Finally, America will never break its dependence on foreign oil without bold leadership. After years of catering to the oil industry, President Bush says he is finally ready to take action and curb our dependence on foreign oil. But neither his actions nor his proposals match his rhetoric. The President has the authority now to raise fuel economy standards if he wants to, but the standard has been at 27.5 miles per gallon since 1985. Under his leadership, we are now importing 60 percent of our oil, up from 53 percent in 2000. In order to curb our dependence on foreign oil and address global warming, the United States needs a major investment in energy innovation, on a scale that this President isn't talking about. We need to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war and involve everyone – government, industry, and individuals – in the solution.
Tonight, the president once again made it clear that we cannot count on him to be honest about our challenges or offer the bold solutions we need to meet them.
But we know that the great power of America lies in the hands of the people of America. If we take responsibility and take action together, we can build a nation that lives up to the greatness of America's promise.