Michigan politicians expressed strong opinions about President Bush’s State of the Union address yesterday, maintaining partisan alliances in their responses to the speech.
The dramatic conclusion of the speech emphasized Bush’s views on the potential conflict in Iraq, the issue that many Americans regard as the most important facing the nation.
Bush’s assertion that Saddam Hussein has not sufficiently cooperated with U.N. weapons inspectors drew dissent from Michigan Democrats. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Detroit was skeptical about the viability of Bush’s proposals, saying in a written statement that the president’s call for action in Iraq is premature and unwarranted.
“I urge the president to provide the U.N. inspectors with the large amount of information which they have requested … and to support the U.N. inspection process as long as the inspectors are making progress, before deciding to take another course of action, including military action,” Levin said.
Before the speech, U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn) criticized Bush’s plans regarding Medicare and homeland security, as well as his assessment of the situation in Iraq.
“A desire for peace is almost a certain indication that you are already in action, or will soon be in action,” Dingell said.
Dingell also noted that in spite of some opposition, Bush is likely to receive sufficient Congressional support to advance his causes.
“He’ll get almost every single Republican vote on almost everything he’s talked about,” Dingell said
In response to heavy criticism from Congressional Democrats, Bush also used the speech to defend his plans for tax cuts to stimulate the economy and called for more disciplined federal spending.
“Jobs are created when the economy grows – the economy grows when Americans have more money to spend and invest – and the best and fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place,” Bush said.
Michigan Republicans were firm in their support of the president’s economic proposals, saying the speech was a good sign for Michigan families.
“President Bush has demonstrated the leadership America needs when we need it most,” Michigan Republican Chairwoman Betsy DeVos said in a written statement. “The president understands that we cannot ignore challenges or pass our problems on to future generations.”
But Levin was critical of the president’s tax cut package, calling the plan “the wrong medicine for our ailing economy.”
“It is a ‘more-of-the-same’ proposal that focuses on upper-income tax cuts and does not provide the short-term stimulus that our economy needs, while at the same time it digs us very deep into the deficit ditch down the road,” Levin said
“It does little to fund our commitment to education, roads and struggling state and local governments, and it leaves one million people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits out in the cold.”
Bush additionally used the address to reveal his proposals for amending the country’s Medicare programs and asserted the need for prescription drug benefits for senior citizens.
“We must renew that commitment by giving seniors access to the preventive medicine and new drugs that are transforming health care in America,” Bush said.
Dingell denounced the plan offered by Bush, stating that the president’s proposals would threaten the future of Medicare.
“On Medicare, he essentially is requesting privatization, which I think would just be calamitous,” Dingell said.