Carper Response to State of the Union

WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2004) – Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., released the following remarks regarding the president’s annual State of the Union speech. On the budget deficit: “Like other State of the Union addresses, tonight we listened to the president spell out a host of spending and tax cut initiatives he’d like to see passed in this election year. But we’ve yet to see this administration set priorities when it comes to the federal budget. Instead, they continue to say that ‘deficits don’t matter.’ I disagree.” “The nation’s bottom line has swung nearly $700 billion in just four years, and the nation’s deficit is projected to be $500 billion this year, the highest ever. Anybody can grow the economy spending $500 billion more than you take in. But we can’t afford to keep doing that over the long run. Any economist worth his salt will tell you that interest rates will go up and our economy will suffer, particularly as the Baby Boomers start to retire and drain federal resources.” “The president says he wants to go to Mars. He wants to pass more tax cuts. He wants to increase spending on domestic programs, including some very important ones, like job training, healthcare, and education. But we can’t do it all.” “I’ve always said that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth paying for. The president has said he intends to cut the deficit in half, but he’s offered no concrete way to do that. The president needs to show real leadership by setting realistic priorities, finding ways to pay for his proposals and then working with Congress to make it happen.” On the year ahead in Congress: “It’s up to the president to set the tone in an increasingly partisan environment. So far, the president has come up with some very big ideas, but I have to question whether those are the right priorities for our country, and if they are, if he’s going to put his muscle behind them.” “There are many issues we need to address. We just passed a prescription drug benefit, which I voted for. But it wasn’t perfect. The president shouldn’t pat himself on the back for a job well done and call it a day. We still have work to do, including finding ways to contain the rising cost of prescription drugs and helping more Americans gain access to health insurance.” “The president has also dropped the ball on the environment. Recently, he proposed weakening some of our clean air laws, including how we control smog and acid rain. I’ve proposed legislation that would significantly reduce those problems as well as begin to address global warming. The president should work with us in Congress to help find a solution to one of our more pressing environmental issues.” On war on terror: “I’m pleased that the administration has begun to take steps to internationalize our efforts in Iraq and capitalize on our capturing Saddam Hussein. But we need to redouble our efforts to win the war on terror. That means we need to find Osama Bin Laden and destroy Al Qaeda’s network of terrorists, not only in Afghanistan but around the world.” “For the entire holiday season, we lived under the very real threat of a terrorist attack. But that threat didn’t come from Saddam Hussein, who was in jail. It came from Al Qaeda.” “I believe our country is safer with Saddam Hussein behind bars. However, we shouldn’t be satisfied with that. We can be safer. That’s why we need to mend fences with other countries, internationalize our anti-terrorist efforts and focus on making the entire world safer from terrorism.”