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Rep. Waters: President’s State of the Union Offers Little Hope for America’s Current and Future Needs

July 30, 2009
Press Release

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35) issued the below statement following the President's State of the Union address tonight:

"I was disappointed that the President failed to propose a reasonable response to either the quagmire in Iraq or the most pressing issues American families face, issues such as affordable healthcare, housing, and education.

"The Iraq war has weakened the United States economically and militarily.  It has made Americans less safe by providing a recruiting tool for terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, and it has severely harmed our reputation around the world.  In his speech tonight, the President failed to show why the escalation he proposed two weeks ago will reverse the violence that cripples Iraq.  More than 3,000 US troops have died, including 27 that have died over the past three days.  Sending more troops to Iraq will only result in more deaths and injuries to them.

"I was also disappointed that the President did not address the housing crisis we have here in the United States. Affordable housing is out of reach for many Americans, and some of these Americans are our military service-men and -women who are returning home from Iraq.  While the cost of the Iraq war is estimated to be $8.4 billion a month, these are funds that could be used to create more affordable housing in this country.  There are over 30 million heads of households in the U.S. who live in unaffordable housing, 14 million are renting, and 6 million of these persons are very poor, paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing. The shortage of affordable housing is one of the real threats to the American people. 

"Meanwhile, there are over 46 million Americans who don't have health insurance.  That is a 15% increase in the number of uninsured since the President took office.  The only solution the President offered was to provide tax deductions for purchasing health insurance.  Tax deductions provide the greatest benefit to those who are in the highest tax bracket.  They will not help the millions of Americans who cannot afford health insurance, nor will they help those who have been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition like the AIDS virus.  And how does the President plan to pay for this new tax deductions for the wealthy?  By raising taxes on middle-income families who are fortunate enough to have good health insurance provided by an employer!

"In addition, the President called for Congress to reauthorize No Child Left Behind Act, which is scheduled to expire this year.  However, for the past 6 years, the President has failed to put the weight of his office behind his signature education program.  He again fails to address the funding gap created when he underfunded the No Child Left Behind Act by $55 billion with his last budget proposal. 

"The President did not pay enough attention to Iraq in his speech in order to divert attention from his failed policies there, nor did his speech mention or devise a realistic plan to address his Administration's shortfalls in healthcare, housing, and education.  He can avoid the Iraq war and the needs of working families here at home, but they will not go away.  The President should have used his State of the Union address to provide real answers to the challenges our nation faces.  Unfortunately, he has only ducked them, leaving them for another day.  That is not the leadership that the American people deserve."