President Bush: It's Time for the Truth

July 25, 2003

Des Moines, IA
When George W. Bush ran for president three years ago, he promised us an era of responsibility in Washington—instead we've got an era of irresponsibility unparalleled in our history. A week after discovering that the cost of occupying Iraq will be double the original estimates, we found out that the nation's deficit is 50 percent higher than estimated just five months ago. In fact, during his two-and-a-half years in office, the President has misled us, the American people, on nearly every policy initiative his administration has put forth.
Trust and credibility are at the very heart of the relationship between a government and its people. And that trust demands that leaders level with the people about what they are doing, the reason they are doing it and the consequences of their actions. The very soul of democracy is at risk when leaders are not straight and truthful with the people.  
By now, we all know that President Bush misled the American people on the rationale for war with Iraq. We now know that the Niger uranium claim was discredited, that evidence regarding aluminum tubes was highly questionable, and that the link to al Qaeda was virtually non-existent. 
Last week I asked sixteen questions about the war in Iraq that must be answered if the American people are to understand the truth around the rush to war and the failure to plan for peace.
These questions are, however, only one piece of a far broader practice by this administration of misleading the American people and breaching the fundamental trust that they have placed in their elected leadership. This practice goes far beyond misleading the country and the world about the reasons for taking us to war in Iraq, this practice extends into the state of the nation's economy, its environment, its schools and beyond.
Mr. President, today I call on you to level with the American people not just about the situation in Iraq but about the true intentions behind the agenda your Administration is pursuing:
You claimed that your tax cuts would create jobs.  Instead we have three million fewer jobs in our economy than when you took office.
You claimed that we would only run deficits that were small and temporary.  Instead, we now face deficits in excess of $455 billion—the largest in history—and red ink as far as the eye can see.
You claimed that your tax cuts would strengthen and stimulate the economy. Instead, we have record numbers of personal bankruptcies, home foreclosures, and an unemployment rate that is the highest in 9 years.
You claimed that the deficits were caused by the costs of 9/11, the war on terror, and homeland security. In fact, the cost of your tax cuts is three times the amount of those items—and your deficit forecasts do not even include the costs of the Iraq war.
You claimed that your education program would live up to its name and that No Child would be Left Behind. Instead, school districts all across the country, including in your home state of Texas, are dumbing down their tests to ensure that their schools are not labeled as needing improvement.  No Child Left Behind turns out to be a huge unfunded mandate on local governments that now must raise property taxes or find other sources of revenue to meet their legal obligations under the Act.
You named your environmental initiatives 'Clear Skies' and 'Healthy Forests' when the truth is that Clear Skies allows more pollutants into the air and Healthy Forests is little more than a bill to reward the logging industry.
You claimed that national and community service was central to your vision for the country. Instead, you have sat idly by while membership in the program is threatened to be cut by 80 program.
And you visited soldiers wounded in Afghanistan on January 17th and had the audacity to promise to 'provide the best care for anybody who's willing to put their life in harm's way' when the previous day your Department of Veteran's Affairs cut off health care access to 164,000 veterans.

Mr. President, it is time for the truth.  It is time for the truth on Iraq but, more importantly, it is time to level with the American people on the true intentions of your administration. It is time to end the empty rhetoric and false promises. The issues at stake are too serious: the lives of our soldiers; the livelihood of our families; the health of our children; the future of our world.
Let us instead work together to rebuild our national community-a community where we truly do not leave any child behind, where we preserve clean skies and healthy forests, and fulfill Harry Truman's dream of health care for all Americans. We must preserve the fiscal trust for our children and grandchildren and ensure that our seniors have access to the Social Security and Medicare that we promised them.
Let's give people a reason to care about their government and to engage in politics again-to believe that their opinions matter and that their leaders listen. Let us work together to take our country back and to restore our lost idealism-to restore our moral force in the world community and to make this a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people. We can do this, and we will-one voter, one supporter at a time. We will end the empty rhetoric and make the American people believe again.

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