(WASHINGTON)—John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, slammed President Bush for misleading the public on issues important to working families.
Last night President Bush paid a lot of lip service to the ideals of freedom and security without any apparent cognizance of the contradictions between his words and reality. If irony were an Olympic sport, President Bush would have won gold last night. Unfortunately, America's working families will find it even harder to make ends meet as a result of the clash between Bush's proposals and reality.
President Bush talked about promoting comp time and flex time, which are inadequate substitutes for the income lost to so many working families due to the recently implemented new overtime rules. If Bush's proposals on comp time even remotely mirror his Administration's outrageous overtime rules, there will be so many loopholes, exceptions and caveats that American workers will have even less time to spend with family without any sort of compensation, be it financial or earned time off from work.
President Bush spoke of supporting our troops, yet they were sent into murky circumstances with unclear goals, an undeveloped plan for accomplishing their mission, and inadequate equipment and supplies to sustain them. Our troops are forced to rely on profit-hungry contractors for their housing, meals, and other essential needs, contractors who on many occasions have failed our troops by refusing to show up for duty. It is the working families of America that have born the disproportionate burden of sending fathers and mothers and daughters and sons into the deadly powder keg of Iraq.
President Bush stated that "America is grateful. America will not forget" the unwavering service of our men and women in uniform. Yet President Bush has consistently failed to adequately fund veterans' programs; in 2005 proposed funding levels were $1.5 billion below what the VA Secretary requested. At a time when veterans are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, many of them wounded and requiring long term care, it has even been reported that the Administration intends to cut funding for the VA by a billion dollars in 2006.
President Bush hailed the vision of President Truman for seeking to rebuild Germany in the aftermath of WWII and likened the difficult of rebuilding Germany to the current situation in Iraq. Following WWII the United States had a plan to rebuild Europe, including Germany, that faced the reality of the difficult task and was not hobbled by ideology and bad information – the Marshall Plan. Because the U.S. lacked a comprehensive and realistic plan for rebuilding Iraq, a plan that would have won the hearts and minds of Iraqi citizens, gratitude has been replaced with animus, and our soldiers have a target painted on their chests as a result. We must find a way to remove the target that is on the chests of American troops serving in Iraq.
President Bush praised the "energy and innovative spirit of American workers." Yet his labor policies have consisted of a litany of horrendous proposals to stifle the voice of the American workforce, end workplace protections, and turn workers into little more than "how high?" asking lackeys. In the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, the Administration seeks to end the policies that have guaranteed a non-partisan workplace and have enabled federal employees who witness wrongdoings to speak out. America's security must not be compromised by policies that gag the workers providing our frontline security and who are the most likely to discover areas where our security efforts are failing.
President Bush touted personal savings accounts to help alleviate the growing health care crisis. These accounts are not a substitute for health insurance; they at best would help make up the difference when insurance requires co-pays and deductibles. With so many working families struggling and nearly one in six Americans without any health insurance coverage, it is doubtful that those who are uninsured would have the extra money required to even enroll in the program.
President Bush once again derided activist judges while failing to acknowledge the constitutional responsibility placed upon our judges to interpret the law and make determinations of the constitutionality of U.S. policies and laws. America needs its activist judges for it is our activist judges who ended racial segregation throughout our society and within our schools. It is activist judges who have upheld the right of Americans to form a union. It is our activist judges who have upheld and affirmed the very civil liberties that we hold dear and are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.