News Release

State of the Union — Interviews Available: *Iraq * Marriage * Health Care * Jobs

NANCY LESSIN
A founding member of Military Families Speak Out, Lessin organized a protest last night outside the Capitol as President Bush gave his State of the Union address. She said today: “Bush says ‘No one can now doubt the word of America.’ But from his distortions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, to his claiming to care about our soldiers in Iraq while not providing them with basic necessities in a war that they shouldn’t even be engaged in, he’s shown that his word cannot be trusted.”
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MIKE GRAVEL
While in the U.S. Senate, Gravel entered the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record. Last summer, he warned the nation of Bush’s “flimsy” evidence and urged Congress not to pass a Gulf of Tonkin type resolution. He said today: “Bush is triumphally applauded by a Congress he deceived. Congress impeached Clinton over his Lewinsky lies, but what is it going to do about Bush’s lies on Iraq? The state of the union is in trouble: its economy is being bankrupted by Bush and the Congress is whistling in the graveyard.” Gravel is currently chairman of the Democracy Foundation.
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REV. GRAYLAN HAGLER
Pastor at the Plymouth Congregational Church UCC in Washington, D.C., Hagler helped organize a theological response to the State of the Union address. Some 50 churches around the country followed suit. Hagler said today: “The common thread in Bush’s address was that this administration is for the wealthy and for corporations…. It was very good for people to be joined together at the church with a teach-in featuring information from policy people and various religious and spiritual responses.”

RAHUL MAHAJAN
Mahajan, author of the book Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond, is just back from Iraq. He said today: “I saw no evidence of any reconstruction worthy of mention in all of Baghdad, a city of six million people. Not only has nothing been rebuilt, even the rubble from bombed-out buildings hasn’t been swept up. The new government of Iraq has been deliberately given no power and no authority; the talk of ‘transfer of sovereignty’ is nonsense. The claim that the United States does not seek to dominate or to be an empire is hardly compatible with long-term plans to leave over 100,000 American troops in Iraq. The claim that these new imperial policies have anything to do with fighting al-Qaeda is particularly hollow, and it’s no accident that there was no mention of Osama bin Laden in Bush’s speech. The proposal to double the budget of the National Endowment for Democracy poses a clear and present danger to democracy everywhere; in the past four years, the NED was involved in buying the 2000 Yugoslavia elections and plotting toward and funding the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela….”
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STEPHEN ZUNES
Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, Zunes is Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project and author of the book Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism. He has written a critique of Bush’s address posted at the above web page.
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JIM JENNINGS
Jennings, director of Conscience International, recently returned from Iran where he met with the deputy foreign minister and with Shirin Ibadi, the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner. Jennings said today: “Bush claimed that America was made more secure by this administration. However, military officials have said repeatedly that there is no way to defend against suicide attacks, despite the trillions we have spent on the military. Increasing numbers of people throughout the world are increasingly angry with America precisely because of the activities of the Bush administration, so how can we say that America is more secure?…. Bush also said that ‘by our actions we have shown what kind of nation we are.’ I have just returned from a humanitarian mission in the earthquake region in Bam, Iran — the town looks like Hiroshima after the A-bomb. Unfortunately, violating the principle that humanitarian work should be done for its own sake and not for political purposes, the USAID field hospital was removed, after the medical team of 70 specialists had treated only 720 persons, following Tehran’s rebuff of the Elizabeth Dole mission. Is this the kind of nation we are?”
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GWENDOLYN MINK
Mink is the author of Welfare’s End and co-editor of Welfare: A Documentary History of U.S. Policy and Politics. She said today: “President Bush threatens to value marriage by amending the Constitution to prevent committed, stable, loving couples from marrying if they happen to be of the same sex. At the same time, he has proposed a $1.5 billion ‘marriage promotion’ policy to pressure poor single mothers to cure their poverty by finding a husband to support them. Taken as a whole, the Bush marriage initiative actually undermines marriage, transforming it from an intimate union between individuals to a governmental weapon to police and enforce heterosexual patriarchy. By turning marriage into a governmental institution, Bush aims to reverse 40 years of constitutional jurisprudence that makes intimate liberty a cornerstone of democratic equality. What’s more, linking governmental marriage policy to God, religion, and his faith-based initiative, as he did last night, Bush aims to undo more than 200 years of our national commitment to separate church and state.”
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STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, DAVID HIMMELSTEIN
Associate professors of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Woolhandler and Himmelstein are co-authors of the study “Paying for National Health Insurance — And Not Getting It.” They said today: “The President has offered more of the same on health care — proposals that are sure to fail to control costs or expand coverage, but that will ship more federal dollars to the wealthy and to HMOs. His tax-free medical savings accounts would expand the massive tax subsidies for health care — at least $120 billion each year — that currently go mainly to the wealthy. At present, families making more than $100,000 annually receive federal tax subsidies for health insurance averaging $2,357 each year, while those making under $15,000 get only $71. The proposed tax credits for added coverage are far too skimpy to make adequate health insurance affordable for most of the uninsured.”
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JARED BERNSTEIN, [via Karen Conner]
Economic Policy Institute senior economist Bernstein said today: “President Bush failed to address the most important problem facing working families: the lack of job growth. Since the president took office in January of 2001, we’ve lost 2.3 million jobs…. He also said that jobs are on the rise. It’s true that job growth turned positive last August, but this was 21 months into the recovery that began in November of 2001, making this the most jobless recovery on record…. One of the President’s big applause lines last night was: ‘For the sake of job growth, the tax cuts you passed should be made permanent.’ In fact, the absence of job growth stands as a stark reminder of the limited impact of these huge, regressive expenditures…. The gap between the administration’s projected jobs impact of the tax cuts and actual job growth is over 1.6 million.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167